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SIR, – As the vet who sits on the committee of the National Association of Cattle Foot Trimmers (NACFT), I am writing to help raise the profile among the veterinary profession of the association and its aims.
The association was formed five years ago and part of its function was to set standards and create a register of cattle foot trimmers.
It is estimated that there are approximately 300 lay people who derive all or part of their income as freelance cattle foot trimmers (T. Richardson, personal communication). Some of these trimmers have formal qualifications, while others may have only received rudimentary (or no) training. Consequently, there is currently a wide range in competencies of lay trimmers. There is no licensing of foot trimmers; membership of the NACFT is voluntary but members must declare their qualification and are then placed in one of five categories on the register. A category 1 trimmer, for example, is trained in the Dutch method of cattle foot trimming, has passed a diploma examination and attends a biennial check day with a recognised instructor. There are 84 NACFT members, of whom 28 are category 1 trimmers.
The NACFT members hope that a new Veterinary Surgeons Act will incorporate cattle foot trimmers as a regulated complementary (para-) professional body, and are currently working towards this goal. The next step is to institute a recognised British qualification of cattle foot trimming that would represent the minimum standard of competence a person should achieve in order to be a licensed foot trimmer. The association, under the guidance of a veterinary technical committee, is progressing well with designing this qualification in conjunction with NPTC (part of the City and Guilds Group), which would be the awarding body.
Currently, foot trimming training is provided by private veterinary practices, agricultural colleges and vet schools; there is no reason why this should change, but quality control can be assured by adopting a standard qualification awarded by external examiners. The examination would include aspects of health and safety, animal welfare, animal handling, record keeping and biosecurity relevant to cattle foot trimming, as well as the practical skills and theory of foot trimming using the Dutch method.
In the meantime, I would encourage colleagues in cattle practice to take a look at the NACFT website at www.nacft.co.uk. Contact details of local foot trimmers can be found along with their category. It would be useful if non-member trimmers known to vets were encouraged to join the association. Vets with a particular interest in cattle lameness and foot trimming may wish to join the association themselves – trimmers are always keen to hear of vets in their area who are interested in cows’ feet.
Furthermore, all interested vets are welcome to attend the NACFT annual meeting on October 15, at Harper Adams Agricultural College in Shropshire. There will be four category 1 trimmers demonstrating the Dutch method of trimming using a variety of equipment and crushes from 9.00 to 11.30, as well as trade stands and ample opportunity to discuss cattle foot care.
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