On a day when the temperature dipped to 12 and the wind chill measured 10 degrees below zero, Jason Stamp set up his office and met his latest customers near his Ewing home.
While the clientele waited in a gated area, Stamp, along with his assistant Ryan Schneider, greeted each of them one by one, giving each personal attention.
While a blast of heat from an electric heater warmed Stamp and Schneider, they guided each client - in this case, Angus bulls - into the chute, clamped them to the mechanical device and trimmed each bull’s hooves.
Operating as Hoof Man, Inc., Stamp owns a cattle hoof-trimming business, serving the eastern portion of the Cornhusker state. He is one of two hoof trimmers within the state’s boundaries.
The Ewing native discovered the advantages of hoof-trimming while working as a herdsman on a Minnesota dairy farm.
After helping a traveling trimmer work with the herd, Stamp decided he “was working on the wrong part of the cow.”
“In two days, he made what I made in one month.”
So, with the blessing of his wife, Jill, Stamp took the last $1,800 to his name and borrowed another $3,500 from a farmer-friend and honed his craft.
Eventually, he started Jason Stamp Quality Hoof Care.
“I could trim about three cows per hour after six months,” Stamp said. “Now I can work on 60 in two hours.”
He joined a team of trimmers from Michigan, traveling to 17 states, from Minnesota to New York to South Carolina.
The Stamps knew they wanted to return to Nebraska, but Jason wasn’t sure if he could justify the move if he didn’t have clients lined up.
“For the first six months, I would leave at 4 a.m. on a Monday, then go to Minnesota for three days, then Iowa for a couple days,” Stamp said.
He contacted local dairy farmers within a 200 mile radius.
For a while, he traveled to North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.
“I got so busy here, I quit traveling outstate.”
Now, he ventures between South Sioux City and Broken Bow, near Burke, South Dakota, to Beatrice.
While he does work on bulls, especially when spring bull sales near, dairy farms keep him occupied.
“Ninety-nine percent of my clients are dairy farms,” Stamp said, adding that his goal is to trim hooves at each place two times per year.
Hooves on dairy cows grow faster, primarily because of the hot ration they are fed.
Stamp said it’s vital to keep hooves trimmed.
Dairy cows are often penned in a confined area.
“They don’t travel far. A lot of times, they stand in wet manure, which softens the hoof.”
These types of conditions can cause different problems, including foot rot or an abscess.
Stamp utilizes five tools of the trade: a hoof knife, for surgery or cutting; a filet knife, to remove warts on the skin; a chipper wheel, made especially for hooves; nippers, to remove the bulk of the hoof, if necessary and the chute, a portable, hydraulic unit that contains the animal.
After cleaning between the toes and around the edges, Stamp uses the chipper wheel to trim each hoof.
If an abscess exists, Stamp treats it with salve and wraps the hoof.
Granted, some dangers exist when working with livestock.
Stamp said getting the animal in the chute can pose a danger of getting kicked or smashed.
Then, there’s the chute itself. It runs on hydraulics, so workers must pay attention to the equipment.
Plus, there’s the possibility of getting cut by the chipper wheel.
Stamp said he’s suffered a few cuts, including one that sliced halfway through a finger joist.
“That was the worst. It was a really bad day.”
But, there are also positive elements of owning this type of business.
Stamp, who enlisted in the Marine Corps and served during Desert Storm, said he oversaw a unit of 110 soldiers, so it took a bit of time to acclimate to being his own boss.
He enjoys it, though.
“I get to set my own hours, for the most part. I get to travel without going too far. I like being in a different place every day.”
Stamp admits, though, that it is hard, dirty work. He said a study reported most new trimmers don’t make it past six months because of the hours and the dirty work.
Some days, he leaves at 8 a.m. and opens shop at 11:30 a.m. Other days, his day begins with a 4 a.m. ride, traveling to a 10:30 a.m. appointment.
“You have to love rural life and the outdoors, to be in this business.”