Farming pioneer who improved cattle health dies aged 93

Eileen and Ed Malt with Dutch hoof trimming cattle crushes in 1980

Eileen and Ed Malt with Dutch hoof trimming cattle crushes on a van before their first demonstration in 1980 - Credit: Malt family

A Norfolk farming "pioneer" who helped revolutionise the care of the UK's cattle has died at the age of 93.

Eileen Malt, from Shipdham near Dereham, worked with her husband Ed Malt to bring the first hoof trimming cattle crushes into the country 40 years ago.

Together, they introduced the Dutch cattle-handling equipment and a new approach to trimming cows' feet which has now been adopted by many commercial dairy and beef farmers to improve the care of their animals.

Mrs Malt worked as a wages clerk at the Metamec clock factory in Dereham before getting married and joining her dairy farmer husband's family business.

She was also an active member of the Women's Institute - which led to a chance meeting with Dutch firm Wopa, a world leader in hoof treatment products.

She became friends with a Dutch farmer's wife through a WI pen-pal scheme, and later visited them in the Netherlands with her husband, who was introduced to the designer of the foot-trimming crushes at a trade show - and then agreed to sell them in the UK. 

Mrs Malt's daughter Ava said: "At the time, there were no hoof-trimming crushes here, so cows didn't get pedicures or remedial treatment for hoof problems. It was not even a concept in the UK in those days.

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"So mum and dad set about doing some demonstrations and taking these crushes around to show people how you trim feet.

"Mum took on the role of staying home to run the business while dad went out on the road doing hoof-trimming courses. Mum became friends with many of the contractors over the years - even when they were on holiday they would pop out and visit the hoof trimmers and their wives.

"The hoof trimmers association referred to mum and dad as pioneers in their time."

Mr Malt, who died in 2013, was instrumental in the founding of the National Association of Cattle Foot Trimmers, of which he was a lifelong honorary member.

The Wopa UK distributorship launched by the couple is still run by Ava Malt and her son Tim Barrell at the family farm in Thorpe Row, Shipdham.

  • A funeral service will be held at 2pm on Friday July 30 at All Saints Church in Shipdham. Donations for farming mental health charity YANA (You Are Not Alone) can be sent c/o WC Littleproud & Son family funeral directors, Hale Road, Bradenham, IP25 7RA or via the online tribute page at

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