Donkey hooves are almost the same composition as horse hooves, but they’re much more dense. Fortunately for those who own donkeys and horses, trimming a donkey’s hooves is done almost the same way as trimming a horse’s hooves. The only difference is the size of the animal and the angle at which the hooves are trimmed. If a donkey’s hoof hasn’t been trimmed in a long time, it might start to curl, and that can take time to correct. Therefore, it’s important to have the correct hoof care in place.
Trimming donkey hooves
– Tie the donkey securely and relax it. A light brushing and establishing that it’s time to clean the hooves is a good thing to do.
– Take the hoof firmly in hand and clean it. Brush off dust and grit, and use a hoof pick to pull out any dirt or grit that’s gotten into the hoof’s sole.
– Use a hoof knife to scrape away the dead hoof material from the sole. Dead material is dry and flaky, whereas living hoof is springy. Use your fingers to judge if the hoof material you’re trimming it dead or not.
– Trim the curling hoof. A donkey’s hoof should be trimmed at the same angle as its shoulders or hips, for the front and rear hoofs respectively. If a hoof has begun to curl, you need to take farrier’s nippers, which are like industrial nail clippers, and begin clipping the nail.
– Grip the nippers with one hand on each handle, and keep the nipper blades perpendicular to the angle of the hook and not to the angle of the hoof wall. It’s recommended that you never clip more than half the length your nippers can handle at once. As with the sole, dead hoof material is dry and hard; living hoof is softer and more flexible.
– Use a rasp to clean up the hoof and to smooth out the cuts. A rasp is essentially a huge nail file, and as you drag it over the hoof it rubs away harsh angles and smooths out the cuts you’ve made. The rasp can also damage your skin, so you may wish to wear gloves while using it.
Donkey hoof problems
Due to our wetter climate in the UK, donkeys are more susceptible to foot diseases, yet most are entirely preventable.
#1 Seedy Toe
When a donkey gets seedy toe, otherwise known as white line disease, the white line area becomes weak and crumbly. Seedy toe lesions are rarely painful unless there is extensive hoof instability, but the widened white line may allow the entry of foreign objects and organisms. Often little stones and dirt can get stuck in the space under the horny part of the hoof, causing the donkey pain or an infection.
Laminitis in donkeys is a veterinary emergency. It is a very painful disease often with irreversible consequences. There are several causes of laminitis: too much rich food, infection or pregnancy. The consequence is a destruction of the support mechanism of the toe bone within the hoof, such that the toe bone can rotate or move downwards.
#3 Foot abscess
Usually the result of a wound that penetrates the sole or white line. An abscess can develop in the foot when the wound is infected and pus builds up. Such wounds can be a cause of Tetanus so ensure that the donkey is protected by vaccination or ask your vet how to protect the donkey.
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Video source: S&S Horseshoeing