Katherine Buckley from Co Tipperary has become the first woman in Ireland to set up her own business as a cattle hoof trimmer. It sounds like a tough job, but Katherine says she loves it.
“I get great satisfaction from seeing a cow that was lame beforehand, walk steadily away after hoof trimming,” says Katherine.
Katherine has worked on her family’s suckler farm since childhood. So, she’s well used to dealing with cattle and familiar with the problems they face. She won a bursary from the Irish Cattle Foot Trimmers Association (ICFTA) for training and mentoring in the profession. She completed her training earlier this year and started working as a hoof trimmer in the summer.
She loves the freedom it gives her as her own boss, and the ability to help cows affected by lameness. “Hoof trimming is one of the best ways to prevent and treat lameness in cattle, so we need to ensure all farmers have access to professional hoof trimmers.”
“It’s great to see women making a breakthrough in this field,” says leading hoof trimmer and trainer, Francis Burns of Eko Hoofcare. “Katherine has a great attitude and will undoubtedly be a boost to cattle health in the Tipperary region.”
Francis says poor hoof health has negative effects on animal welfare and production and it costs farmers thousands of euros a year. “Regular hoof trimming acts as a preventive treatment for lameness and other conditions. So, Katherine’s work in the region will play an important role for the farming community.”
“We have been delighted to join the ICFTA in supporting her with a bursary too. Our bursary was towards the purchase of her first hoof trimming chute – which holds the cattle securely in place. Buying a professional trimming chute offers better safety and efficiency for a professional hoof trimmer.”
Katherine works a 5-day week as a hoof trimmer, serving County Tipperary and the wider region. So what does a typical day as a hoof trimmer look like? After her early morning jobs on the family farm, she starts her day around 9am. “It takes about ten minutes to set up the chute when I arrive and I visit two or three farms a day. So I trim about 20 or 30 cattle a day, every day.”
“It’s a great job as you meet lots of different people. I can’t believe how quickly my business is growing.” She still helps out on the family farm near Nenagh after hours and at weekends, so she doesn’t have much spare time.
Francis Burns says being a professional cattle foot trimmer can be demanding at times. There are all the challenges of working with and managing livestock as a stranger in your client’s yard. We need to find root causes for ongoing issues within the herd and impart our expert knowledge to the farmer. We constantly try to encourage preventative measures and approaches for every farmer. Good communication with your hoof trimmer is key. Alerting them early to any problems is ideal. As I always say, if you are reacting to lameness your too late!”
You can contact Katherine on 086-1699785 and Francis via https://ekohoofcare.com/