Clipping dirty tails and coats should be a regular job on a dairy farm to protect milk quality, as dirty cows are more likely to get mastitis.
Brand identification beneath a winter coat is also desirable in multiple situations so rumps need trimming too.
The key to successful trimming is having the right equipment and a skilled operator.
At Stackpole Home Farm in Pembrokeshire we found not one but three skilled operators – milk producer Chris James and his staff Michelle Thomas and Will Dawson.
We equipped them with five different clipper models and put them to work trimming the tails and rumps of 600 New Zealand Friesian and Jersey cross cows.
All the clippers on test were high quality products, each with different properties to meet differing needs.
Watch the video of how our five test models performed and read the detailed reviews below.
The team gave their verdict but emphasise that individual farmers must decide whether a clipper or shearing head is best for their task. They discovered the head type is by far the greatest difference between models.
Clipper heads came up trumps for the clean and efficient clipping of the coat, but fell short on removing muck and tail hair, while shearing heads scored highly for trimming tails and dirty patches.
As with all equipment, clippers need to be correctly maintained if they are to perform as intended.
Lister Fusion Shearer
£325 ex VAT
- Two speeds for different situations
- 360W permanent-magnet motor with 135W lower setting
- Overload protection featuring reset function
- Multiple grip positions for different shearing jobs
- Didn’t falter when a good amount of pressure was applied into the tail
- A meaty motor on full power but a lot smoother on the 135W setting
- High power setting is good for trimming soiled tails
- Very good blade, seemed to glide through the tough stuff
- Nice and light so easy to handle.
- A lot of vibration in the hand on full power, which got tiring after a while
- The switch is positioned where your palm touches, which can cause you to inadvertently change settings or turn the machine off.
This is the machine that Chris would choose to use if he had several hours of trimming to get done, even though he suggests it is noisier and vibrates more than the comparable Liscop when on the high speed setting. However it dropped one star because of the position of the switch.
“For everyday cattle work it seems unstoppable, it gets the job done,’’ he says.
Tel: 01453 826 692
Liscop Profi Line 4000
£320 ex VAT
- Supplied in a strong plastic carrying case with an A5 comb and cutter, oil and a comb fixing tool
- Handset weighs 1.31kg
- Switch is in a good place on the upper rear of the machine and sealed so it will not clog up if it gets mucky
- Nicely balanced in the hand
- Gentle to use – doesn’t vibrate as much as the other mains-operated models
- Air filters are easy to remove and clean
- Didn’t seem to have quite the power of the competitor models for the heavy stuff but the single 200W setting is a good compromise, midway between the two power settings on the Lister machines
- Two-handed job to turn on
This was Michelle’s pick of the bunch. She found it smooth to use and said it got the job done efficiently without any problems.
“We had a lot of cows to get trimmed. This machine got through them quickly and with little effort,’’ she says.
Tel: 028 3831 4570
Lister Fusion Clipper
£315 ex VAT
- 360W motor with two speeds
- Twin internal fans to reduce running temperature
- Weighs 1.1kg.
- Powerful and smooth
- High-speed setting for the heavy stuff
- Lovely fine cut
- Care is needed that this blade doesn’t nick tails if you are clipping at a certain angle – but that is really down to the operator rather than a quirk of the machine
- Similar problem to the Fusion Shearer where the switch gets knocked by the hand and is prone to getting clogged with debris.
This model was Will’s stand-out favourite.
“This one is the business. It glides nicely through the coat which is good for getting the job done quickly,’’ he says.
“Very good overall. It gave a nice fine cut.’’
Rating: A “solid” ✭✭✭✭✩
Tel: 01453 826 692
Lister Liberty C610 Cordless Cattle Clipper with clipper head
£295 ex VAT
- Rechargeable cattle clippers with lithium-ion battery
- Supplied with a battery, charger, blade set, oil, cleaning brush and carry bag.
- Weighs just 800g so is light to operate
- Almost comparable to the Lister mains models running on low power
- Even though there is still a cable to the belt battery pack, you feel free of a trailing lead, allowing freedom of movement
- Comes with a tool bag rather than a case which made it very easy to pack away.
- As with the Lister Fusion, the blade can nick tails if you are clipping at a certain angle. Care is needed while you become familiar with the machine.
Remarkable performance for a battery model
“What’s not to like if you want a clipper head?’’ says Chris.
“We didn’t run the battery down after a heavy morning’s work. All five battery indicator lights were still showing.’’
The team could understand why this model is a popular choice with professional freeze branders.
Tel: 01453 826 692
£325 ex VAT for a single battery model or £383 ex VAT for a double battery model
- The LED display on the charger unit indicates battery charge level
- Supplied with a set of A107 blades, battery charger, fitted battery and one optional spare battery
- Gives cordless clipping for up to two hours
- Slimline lightweight body (990g)
- No trailing power cord
- Li-Ion battery technology.
- A quiet machine
- Light and balanced to use
- High-quality design and construction.
- Noticeably slower in our test
- A single battery charge lasted for only up to 20 cows.
Performed very well on the brand clipping but this is maybe not the right model if you’ve got a lot of cows to trim in one go.
Lacked power in thicker hair and tails but would perform well for cattle showing or as a vet’s tool. Ideal for getting a cow clipped at a moment’s notice as you don’t have to worry about being near a power socket.
Star rating: ✭✭✭✩✩
Tel: 07970 815530