Three of the mother cows needed their nails tended to so the bovine pedicure guy came over. He brings a fancy hydraulic portable gate and places it at the end of our chute.
Salers cows aren’t common in our part of France and this was the first time he’d worked on them. He’d never had a cow with horns like Big Cow in his gate so he took a photo something like this to show his buddies.
It wasn’t easy getting her in there. She had to be roped and then we pushed and pulled her horns to get them through the gate. It is a good thing Big Cow is a calm animal, although maybe being a cow of 18 gives you a calmer perspective on the world.
He could have used our chute to work on the cows but he gets the speed and control he needs from this hydraulic setup. You can see the Hitachi angle grinder with special cow hoof disk hanging on the back there.
You don’t want to have hoof problems since it costs to have the specialist come out. We have several cows from the Calvet family of Salers which give good milk but they also seem to be at higher risk of getting overgrown toenails.
Regular cleaning is one solution, but the only long term solution is to select the daughters of animals with healthy hooves to be your replacement heifers.
The other thing on my mind is horn shortening or removal. Big Cow’s horns are so long she always has trouble with the chute. You could cut 20cm off each horn and she’d be much better while still retaining her horns. And it would reduce the risk of me getting speared with the pointy end.
It makes sense to do that with the three or four cows that have trouble negotiating the chute not only to make life easier for us but also to make yard work less stressful for the cow.
Once you think about changing the horn length you can’t help but think about going all the way and removing all horns for the safety factor. It would be safer for me but sacrilege for the Salers farmers I know.
Here’s a farm in Northern Ireland with some very well conditioned Salers that get dehorned at three days. They look lovely even without the horns.