Seeking Input from Experienced Shepherds

The other day I got a good look at Chone’s back hooves, and realized that the boys probably needed to be trimmed up a bit.

So yesterday The Man and I went out there and rounded up the guys (except Griff, he’s still being a bit of a bugger) and did some hoof trimming.

What we found was that a fair number of the hooves have a problem with separation of the hard external covering and the sole underneath. Also seemed like the hooves were kind of softer than I would have expected, seeing as how we’re not even into our wet season yet.
They don’t look infected (not hot, swollen or smelly), but there was dirt and debris getting stuck in that crevice, and I know that can’t be good.

I suppose if would have helped if I’d taken some pictures of the hooves,, but we kinda had our hands full, being new to this whole thing 🙂

After doing some reading and going back to our farm store, we decided to use a copper naphthenate product applied with a sponge brush to the hooves. Guess we’ll be doing that every day or so for a while and see how it goes.

The thing is, I can’t help but wonder if there is some sort of trace mineral or element that they are missing that they need for health hoof development. I know that the mineral issue is kind of regionally complicated by soil composition and all.

I read this blog today by someone who lives a down near Seattle. She attributes her sheep’s recovered hoof health at least in part to switching to a goat mineral product that contains some copper. I’ve also heard that zinc is really important to hoof development. Perhaps my guys are not getting enough?

They currently have a free choice loose sheep mineral that I know they consume with regularity. Pretty sure it’s the Wilbur Ellis Range Country sheep mineral. I picked that one because it had more selenium in it that the other that was available locally, and I’d heard that our soil is generally selenium deficient.

Nobody is limping or showing signs of discomfort, but I really want to make sure that their hooves are in good shape going into the winter.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and suggestions.



  1. workingcollies

    Denise, I would love to see the label contents for the Wilbur-Ellis mineral, if you ever have time to type them out or scan them. That’s one I’ve not found, and I’d like to compare it to other brands I’ve looked at. I haven’t seen it at the stores around Snohomish- are you getting it up north somewhere in Skagit?

    • sheepsclothing

      just posted a scan of the mineral tag in a new entry- if you could take a look and tell me what you think, I’d really appreciate it!

  2. Michelle

    Yeah, it’s tough to know what’s going on without seeing what you’re seeing. I know Donna and Franna up in your neck of the woods have had documented copper deficiency, but that isn’t corrected by adding copper sometimes; there are other trace minerals that may be binding with copper, or are needed for copper absorption. Hopefully one of them will chime in. Maybe you can take pictures the next time you treat?


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