This fact sheet was developed by students enrolled in Purdue's ANSC 442 Sheep Management course in Spring 2006, as a semester project. These fact sheets provide useful information on various topics related to sheep. View the list of fact sheets.

Hoof Trimming 101

By: Megan Pallatin
Nate Mrozinski
& Casey Davis

There are several reasons why you may need to trim a sheep's hooves. Some of which are as follows: prevent lameness, hoof abnormalities, and foot rot.

The first step in the process is the restraint of the animal. As shown in the picture the sheep can be placed on its rear and held quite easily, leaving your hands free for trimming. Some people use side turn tables in which they place the sheep on their sides for easy access to their hooves.

Now that you have the sheep restrained the next step is to clean the dirt and manure from the hooves. This is done for several reasons, but mainly to make it easier to see where you are cutting. This can be done by using either the trimmers or a hoof pick.

Next you want to trim off the front sides of the hoof, to the point that it is level with the pad. You should work your way around the hoof and cut off the excess growth. You want to use care while cutting so that you do not cut too deeply. This is best accomplished by only taking small pieces of the sides at a time.

Once you begin to see pink in the hoof you should stop. This is a picture of a hoof that was cut too deeply. If this occurs it is not a major issue. Simply treat the hoof with a blood clotting powder to stop the bleeding. Monitor the sheep to make sure no problems develop, but the animal will usually be just fine.

After you have trimmed the sides of the hoof you will typically need to trim a little off of the front tip. Shown in the picture this ewe has one toe extremely longer than the other and by trimming it off it helps to even out the way the ewe will walk and help prevent lameness.

If necessary you may need to trim the back pad of the hoof if it is grown out to the point that manure is being trapped underneath of it. Typically when the animal is walking they will keep this worn down, but from time to time it is necessary to trim it off.

Another area that at times you may need to trim is the dew claws. If dew claws become too elongated that can get caught on things or even irritate the back of the foot.

When you are all done the bottom of the foot should be level from the toe to the heel.





There are several different types of trimmers that can be used. Here is a picture of two very common types.


All pictures taken by Megan Pallatin, hoof trimming done by Casey Davis and Nate Mrozinski at the Purdue University Sheep Research Unit.

Related Links:

Hoof Care

Foot Rot Information