(Unfortunately the images for this review were lost during the blog’s move)
As any goat owner will agree, any product that will make our work easier is well worth it!
About a month ago, I came upon the Electric Hoof Knife and was intrigued. While it’s not actually a knife, it’s what amounts to a hand held angle grinder. A simple enough concept; having used an angle grinder on horse hooves before, I was interested. I had to stop using a regular grinder due to the bulky weight of it – it was just too heavy and large for me to easily use, even though it made hoof trimming easier.
I showed the Electric Hoof Knife to the dairy owners, and it wasn’t long before ours arrived.
I am not affiliated with the makers of the Electric Hoof Knife at all, just a goat owner reviewing the product for everyone else!
First and foremost, I have to say the customer service is excellent. While I didn’t personally speak with them, the farm owner spent some time on the phone discussing the product before ordering. It’s always nice to know there is a real person on the other end of a product, eager to answer any questions.
Our Electric Hoof Knife arrived, along with a carrying bag, instructions, eye protection, a medium disc (the course disc was backordered and will be arriving shortly), and a tool for the item.
The grinder is very lightweight (about 1.2lbs) and easy to hold, even with my very small hands.
I installed the grinding disc and began trimming feet. With around 150 goats to trim, it gets hard to keep up, even when keeping them on a constant rotating schedule. Even using sharp quality pruner type trimmers, the strain on our hands is immense. Especially for us, who also use our hands to milk, “speak” in ASL, and heaven knows I use a keyboard more than anything else in this world.
So hand/wrist strain is always on our minds.
I found the grinder to absolutely have a learning curve – I recommend practicing on a bit of wood at first to get a feel for how it works. It doesn’t cut – it grinds down the hoof. It takes a layer at a time, which I find to be much safer than traditional trimmers, which can easily take a chunk out of the hoof on accident. It is still possible to draw blood if you grind down too far, but if you’re using caution, you can see when to stop long before you would cause injury to the animal.
Wear gloves and the eye protectors! Do not use this product in an area that is not very well ventilated and a face mask is recommended. I absolutely do not recommend you use the Electric Hoof Knife without gloves and eye protection. It throws a great amount of dust and hoof particles around, and it’s quite easy to slip, especially when just starting out, and have the grinder brush against your hands.
I wasn’t able to take a video (although the website has several accurate videos), but here are two examples of before and after.
I have to say, I really liked the results. It can be difficult, using traditional trimmers, to get a very smooth sole of the hoof. The Electric Hoof Knife makes it easy. No more crevices or anything of the sort where dirt, feces, or stones can lodge. Trimming back the toes and the heel are quite easy.
I found once I got the hang of the product, the best way to hold it, the trimming went quickly. About the same time it takes me to use pruning shears. I have no doubt that it will eventually end up being a much quicker method as I become more habituated to using it.
The Electric Hoof Knife isn’t overly loud – none of the goats showed any concern when it was switched on. The vibration is minimal and none of the goats behaved any differently than when I trim with traditional tools. I did experience some hand fatigue from holding it, but that disappeared shortly after taking a break, unlike the lingering pain in the wrist that comes from using pruning shears.
It is recommended that you clean it after every couple of trims. I found that tapping it against the side of the stand gently knocked free a lot of dust, and the rest could be brushed off with my hoof pick brush. And when they say it creates dust, it certainly dust!
On the whole, I really like it. While expensive, the tool appears very well made – although we’ll see if it holds up to near constant use! If I desire, I can purchase the horse discs from their store and use the same tool to trim my horses’ hooves. It does a great job and does it quickly, with minimal strain to my hands and wrists.
I can easily see myself purchasing one of these for my personal use when the time comes, both for my goats and for my ponies.
UPDATE September 4th 2014:
We’ve now had the EHK for many months now, and I have no major complaints. It has enabled me to correct improperly growing hooves in several goats. It’s easier to get in between their hooves and on the edges than it would be with traditional trimmers. We’ve used it quite heavily – with almost two hundred goats, hoof trimming is a constant chore.
I continue to recommend this tool and have shown it off during our Dairy Day events and spent much time answering questions about it. One of the biggest questions is about the amount of heat it puts on the hoof. So far I’ve not noticed anything more than a little warmth on the hoof, even on long sessions when I am working to correct a poorly grown and shaped hoof.
We have also used the EHK to cut through and remove scurs that were growing dangerously near the goats’ heads, as well as notch horns for the banding process. We almost exclusively use the “coarse” disc at this point.
UPDATE August 20th 2015:
I have now been using this tool for a long time and continue to recommend it to my friends and fellow goat keepers. I have had no issues with it, and it has enabled me to improve a lot of the feet around here.