Hoof Trimming – An interview with Female Hoof Trimmer Sophie Mitchell

In this post we spoke with Sophie (@thefemalehooftrimmer), who is a professional cattle hoof trimmer based in Manchester, England. We asked Sophie a few questions to help us get to know what her life is …

In this post we spoke with Sophie (@thefemalehooftrimmer), who is a professional cattle hoof trimmer based in Manchester, England. We asked Sophie a few questions to help us get to know what her life is like as a hoof trimmer, how she got into hoof trimming and everything she loves about her job.

Q: What sort of farming background do you have?

A: I became interested in farming through my dad Richard Ashton and mum Judy. My dad used to help out a lot on his uncles dairy farm and later spent many years in their career managing dairy farms and relief milking, until they eventually ventured into hoof trimming and became successful in running their own business. When I was younger I used to go along with them a lot and this is how my farming interested started. 

Q: What made you want to start farming and working in agriculture?

A: I loved being on farms. Even though I grew up in quite a semi-urban area, farming was just in me somehow. I found hoof trimming so fascinating and interesting as you don’t realise how incredibly important it is for cows on a welfare basis, to get their feet done and it gripped me. The more I went and the more I got involved the more I wanted to pursue it as a career. Although at the same time I was also pursuing a career to go into the police thinking that was the best way to go, but my love for farming took over. 

Q: What do you feel are the key qualities to do your job?

A: Knowing how to handle a knife and grinder is a good start! But I think your knowledge and understanding of the job and of farming in general is just as important. Also learning how to handle and be around the animals too is key for your safety as much as the animals safety. Its all about making the right decisions for cows! It’s important to attend the right courses to teach you the theory and practical side of trimming. Before I started trimming I was at a disadvantage as I never grew up on a farm long enough to learn about all things farming. So I was lucky enough to have my dads past experience teach me along the way. 

Q: Do you have any animals or pets to help/support with your work?

A: No we don’t use any animals to help in our job. Although I’m a soft touch when it comes to the farm dogs we come across at our customers farms, they can be helpful at times!

Q: Do you have children and run a home too? How do you juggle these responsibilities?

A: Yes I have a 3 year old daughter and recently this year bought our own home with my husband. The job itself can be hard at times, and it can be difficult coming back home knowing you have all your tools to clean, topping up your equipment you need for the next day and ringing round customers. It can feel like work carries on at home. But working as a team kind of helps relieve that, as its not all put on one person. 

Q: Can you briefly describe a typical working day?

A: Typically we get up at 5.30-6am most days to beat the traffic as we live a good 40 minutes to an hour away from most of our customers and most of the travelling is on the motorway. Once we arrive on farm we get our crush set up and equipment out and get the kettle on before getting stuck into some trimming (also a bit of chatting with the farmers and staff) We trim around 30-40 cows on average a day. 

Q: Do you ever get any time off? If you do, what do you like to do?

A: We try and have odd days off when possible. We try and avoid working weekends unless someone is desperate for a visit or the diary starts getting full as I like to spend my weekends with my family. Think it is important to get the right balance with work and family. I’m also quite into strength training, so I fit that in once a week also. 

Q: What job opportunities are available for somebody wanting to become a hoof trimmer?

A: For people wanting to become professional hoof trimmer, the most common route is through gaining experience as general farm worker or herdsman. This allows them to build experience in the knowledge of cattle and cattle handling. It can take a while to establish a career as a hoof trimmer professionally because of the difficulties of building up a customer base. Attending the correct training and being part of a regulated body (for example The National Association of Cattle Foot Trimmers) is essential. 

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