Pig Hoof Trimming
By: Matt Burton
All pigs need their hooves trimmed from time to time. It is very important to the KuneKune breed to keep their feet in good condition. We want to have Kunes that are strong on their legs, feet, and pasterns. While genetics certainly play a large part in that, regular hoof trimming can also go a long way in keeping the pigs sound on their feet. How often it needs to be done is dependent on each individual pig. We have some pigs that need the hooves trimmed every couple of months and then others that can go a year. There are many different methods that you can use to do this. We have researched every method possible on trimming pigs hooves that we could find on the internet. What we have found to be the most effective is flipping the pig on their back with their 4 legs pointing up in the air. This will take one or two people to hold the pig as well as trim their hooves. We use goat hoof trimmers which you can get from almost any feed store or online livestock supply company. On lighter colored pigs it is very easy to see the excess hoof growth that needs to be cut as you can easily see their nail bed. You want to trim as close as possible to the nail bed without cutting into it. You want their hoof to be flat on the bottom with no excess growth on the sides or front of the hoof. With darker colored pigs it is hard to see the nail bed so you need to be more careful with these. We just trim slowly and don't go past our comfort zone on pigs with black feet. We have heard from others that trim the excess growth away and then use a Dremel type tool to smooth the edges as well, which is great.
Tip: Always give your pig a treat after each hoof trim.
Tip: If you have acquired your pigs as youngsters, whenever you give them a belly-rub you can also play with their feet as much as possible. This gets them used to their feet getting worked on. If you do this enough, it is possible to trim the hooves on a pig when they are laying over for a belly rub. KuneKunes have very laid back with gentle personalities and it will not take much convincing to get them to lay down for a belly rub, OK-really they flop over for one any chance they get! We are able to do this with several of our pigs, but many of them eventually figure out what we are up to and stand up. This is why we generally use the above as it is much more efficient and after everything is done the pig is back to normal and acts like nothing has happened.
Below you will find links to a series of videos for illustration purposes only that displays the two methods of trimming hooves discussed in this article. The first two are very descriptive on what to do and use the belly rub method. These two are very educational and show exactly where to cut, etc. The last video is not very descriptive, but displays the flip method that is discussed above. Please use your own judgement on which method works best for you and which you and your pigs are more comfortable with. The pigs in the video are Potbellies, but these methods can be applied to any breed of swine.
Hoof Trimming video one, click here
Hoof Trimming video two, click here
Hoof Trimming video three (using the flip method), click here