Foot trimmers can now opt into a recognised professional register, allowing producers peace of mind that those in the code are fully qualified.

The National Association of Cattle Foot Trimmers code of practice, launched at the recent pan-European Hoofcare 2007 convention at Reaseheath College, Nantwich, Cheshire, gives producers reassurance on the quality and competence of trimmer’s work.

According to Tony Richardson, NACFT chairman, that can only be a good thing. “Trimmers are doing a professional job and this is a major step forward in enforcing that professionalism.

“We know many trimmers do a good job, but equally there are those who do not. Not every trimmer is, or may want to be, an NACFT member, but the Code sets a standard for the industry and – importantly – is endorsed by the British Cattle Vet Association,” he said.

For livestock farmers it means there is a benchmark by which to judge trimmers’ level of competence. All trimmers can join the NACFT, but those who do not hold a Dutch Diploma in foot trimming must take the new UK qualification within a year of joining, explained Chris Just, NACFT vet liaison officer.

“We’ve worked with the Royal College of Vet Surgeons and BCVA to ensure the qualification is recognised. It is administered by the National Proficiency Training Council to Level 3 – equivalent to the Dutch Diploma that has been the standard to date.

“There is no regulation currently for trimmers, but its foreseen there will be. This ensures it’s managed in the UK rather than dictated by Europe,” he adds.

    The main points include: 

  • Professional trimmers become part of NACFT and declare qualifications
  • New NPTC Level 3 Certificate of Competence becomes accepted UK standard
  • Training for identifying foot ailments and trimming techniques to correct them
  • Understanding when to involve a vet, such as where lameness is not due to foot
  • Recognition by vets of the competence of trained trimmers
  • Better recording/communication between client, trimmers and vets

Reaction to the code has been positive. Producer John Thomason – who hosted the on-farm demonstrations at his 500-cow dairy unit at Aston Lower Hall, Nantwich, said it could only benefit the industry. “Providing it doesn’t add to paperwork then it’s no bad thing. The UK climate is so wet foot problems occur and in a summer like this – where cattle are back inside due to poor ground conditions – that’s something we have to deal with.”

NACFT member Andrew Tyler of Ceredigion, Wales, said regulation would benefit welfare. “I’m a Category 1 trimmer and regularly undertake training updates, but that benefits producers and the cattle I see.

“When we contribute to discussions between producers, vets and nutritionists on the welfare of cattle through doing our job that’s got to be of benefit. I would work in well with producers developing primary herd health plans under farm assurance,” he added.

Vet Jan Downer of the Royal Dick Vet School, Edinburgh, said changes would benefit producers in other ways. “Producers will know vets and foot trimmers are joining in the discussion on cow health – that has such a major impact on productivity – and they are not alone in thinking about cow care.”

fwlivestock@rbi.co.uk