by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Thousands of cattle around Central Minnesota have had their hooves trimmed courtesy of Steve’s Hoof Trimming. Steve Jansma has been trimming hooves since 1997.
He grew up on a dairy farm in southwestern Minnesota near Maple Grove, farming with his father from 1980 to 1986. After their farm was taken by the bank, he worked in farm dairy management until 1997, as a herdsman on five different farms.
“I got tired of working for other people,” he said. “After watching hoof trimmers work on dry cows, I thought, ‘If they can make a living doing that, so could I.’”
As a herdsman, Jansma already had experience working with hooves when the need arose.
He and his wife, Sue, live in Rice. Their three children are grown, although two still live in Minnesota.
Jansma started out using a small manual chute.
“It was really old and rickety,” he said. “Within a year, I realized I needed to get something better. With a Riley-built layover chute, business just grew and grew.”
Although Jansma has employed hoof trimmers now and then, he is currently a “one-man” show.
When he was getting established, he often worked in southern Minnesota. After he started another hoof trimmer in that area, he’s been able to stay closer to home.
“I go about an hour to an hour-and-a-half radius, doing the bulk of my work in Stearns, Todd, Morrison and Benton counties,” he said.
His most recent employee-turned-hoof trimmer was Tyler Gerads from Holdingford. The 23-year-old is now milking 80 cows near Sauk Rapids and doing hoof trimming on his own.
Jansma trims an average of about 50 cows at each visit, but that varies based on a number of factors. If he is scheduled to trim 20 cows at a barn where hooves haven’t been regularly trimmed, he might end up doing 40-50 cows.
“It’s rough the first time at a tie-stall barn where hooves haven’t been trimmed. They are really long and tough and it’s harder to get through them,” said Jansma.
The most he has trimmed in one day is 130, but that has never been repeated due to exhaustion.
He works all year, although he won’t work in the rain.
“There are too many electrical cords,” he said. “And things get too slimy and slippery.”
When winter weather gets too severe, it’s often the farmer who will call to cancel. He works outside for about half of his calls.
“The biggest problem in winter is my hands; they have to remain nimble to do the work,” he said. “But if I keep the whole body warm, that helps the hands.”
Jansma runs into some unique animals and situations while out and about.
“I’ve seen a cow with three toes on one foot, and also a three-nostrilled cow,” he said.
Some of the more “unusual and noteworthy” animals he trims are two Brown Swiss steers that Upsala farmer Joe Staricka grew into oxen.
“They weigh about 2,700 pounds apiece and their backs have to be six feet off the ground — over my head. It’s quite a trick to get them in my chute,” said Jansma. “They look like intimidating animals, but they act like puppies when you’re around them.”
Cold Spring farmer Tim Krueger has used Jansma’s services for about five years, keeping his 140 cows in good shape.
“He’s good at what he does,” said Krueger. “The cows are penned off in a group and he does his things; I don’t have to help him. I’m really satisfied.”
Ginny Scherping, who farms with her husband, Vern, west of Little Falls, has cows trimmed by Jansma every two weeks.
“He does a good job — he doesn’t overtrim them,” she said.
“When I was young, I thought you just had to be good at what you do,” said Jansma. “But I found that you have to understand each farm. Each has a signature of its own because of its farm management and housing. I see a different farm every day — you have to get a feel for what environment the cows live in and how they are taken care of.”
Even though Jansma would rather have been farming, hoof trimming has been a good life.
“It’s a good business, and I like having my own business,” he said. “I have never lacked for work.”
For more information, call (320) 290-7663 or visit www.steveshooftrimming.com.