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goat keeping, health information

Hoof Trimming
page 1 of 4

If you keep goats, you must trim their hooves.

The side walls to the goat's hoof grow faster than they wear down and so need to be trimmed.  In nature, the walls would get worn and trimmed naturally by the rocks the goat would be walking and climbing on. When the side wall grows long, it curves around and over the sole of the foot creating a place wear dirt collects and rot can start.  The whole point of trimming the goats foot is to keep it rot free as well as comfortable to walk on.  You need to trim away all the places wear dirt and rot can collect.

Note: Goats are not horses; their feet and hooves are different.  You are just trying to trim the goats foot to get it flat and even so it is more comfortable to walk on and also make sure there are no places where dirt can collect and rot can start.

How to trim a goat's hooves:

  • Clean out any dirt with a hoof pick or the tips of your trimmers.
  • Trim the side walls of the hoof, and the heel down so that they are even and flat with the sole of the foot (sometimes referred to as the "frog"). You may trim the sole if necessary.
  • Trim slowly and carefully until you start to see pink. Once you see pink, stop, or you will cause the goat to bleed.
  • Trim any excess between the two heel areas, if necessary.
  • If you encounter a dirty pocket, or the wall of the hoof separating from the hoof, you need to totally trim this out/off until it is open and clean. Leave no dirt, or you risk "hoof rot"
  • You're shooting for nice, relatively flat sole with no dirty pockets. (see photos below and on the next three pages)

Tips on hoof trimming:

  • How often you need to trim depends totally on the individual animal. You will probably need to trim at least four times a year, but be prepared to do it more often if necessary. If you give your goats a large rock to play on, they may need to have their feet trimmed less often. This rock mimics the natural land a goat would live on and helps them keep their hooves in check.
  • To know when you need to trim each individual animal, you need to check them. To check if the hoof need trimming, look at the back feet. The front feet wear down quicker and may not need trimming quite as soon as the rear hooves. If you just look at the front, you may miss the fact that the back feet need trimming.
  • The best way to hold the goat as you trim hooves is to put the goat in a milkstand and sit next to them. I move my seat around the stand for each foot to get the best angle. Having the goat stand on the ground and you trying to trim standing up bending over them up is crazy and will kill your back. It you have goats, you should build/buy a milkstand so you can "work" your goats properly. Click here for plans on how to build your own milk stand.
  • Give your goat a little grain to occupy him and keep him happy. If it takes a long time to trim, be sure not to feed them too much grain, because this could cause them to bloat.
  • Wear gloves, or you will cut yourself and get blisters (don't say I didn't warm you)
  • Use a proper hoof trimmer that is sharp. I use the "orange handled trimmers" (I wouldn't use anything else). You can find in most goat catalogs, from Jeffer's and PBS Livestock (see suppliers). Don't use garden shears. I have never used those trimmers sold for sheep called "foot rot shears" and I can't imagine how you could do a proper, safe, job of trimming with them.
  • Wash the goat's feet with arm soapy water and a scrub brush if necessary so you can see what you are doing. (I don't usually do this)
  • Have a helper handy to hold a flash light, just in case you need more light to see what you are doing.
  • If the goat does not want to stand when you trim her feet and tries to lay down in protest, stick a rigid bucket under her belly. This will keep her from laying down.
  • Take you time. Trim just a little at a time. Every goat is different and some may need less trimmed than others. Be careful to look for pink; if you see pink, you are close to causing them to bleed.
  • On really bad feet, it is often better to trim "as best that you can" and come back and do a little more a few weeks later. It may take a few trimmings before the feet start to get looking "normal"

What if you have hoof rot?

Hoof rot is a bad thing.  It is a soft black "rotten" area that can spread up the goat's hoof wall.  You need to treat this as soon as you notice it so it does not get worse.

  • Prevention is key.  Keep the goats living area dry and practice proper hoof trimming.
  • Often you can actually smell the rot.
  • Trim all the "rot" away that you can.  Dig out any pockets. If you have to trim away part of the side wall, then do so.  You must try to remove all the rot. The hoof might bleed.  It will take patience on the part of all involved.  It might have to take a few "sittings" to complete the job.
  • Scrub the entire hoof well with Udder wash. You need to get the hoof clean and all the rot washed away.
  • Saturate the entire area with Dr. Naylor's Hoof n' Heel or Lavender / Tea Tree Power Combo
  • Keep checking the hoof, scrub, clean and reapply the Hoof n' Heel or Lavender / Tea Tree as needed.

 


"A picture is worth a thousand words."

The following 4 pages document the trimming of all four hooves of one of our bucks.

How to hold a kid for trimming
(see below)


Right Front- This page

Click to see: Left Front

Holding the Right Front hoof.

 

Right Front- Before.

 

Trimming the inside heel area.

Digging out a "dirty pocket".

Right Front- Done.
Notice the pink just starting to show at the tip of the toe.


How to kid a kid to trim his feet

The kid is held in an assistant's lap with his front legs on one side and his back legs on the other. Don't let his legs get under himself or he may wiggle away.

To do the back feet, extend the feet out back.

To do the front feet, hold the feet out front.


     

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