We don't want a life of discomfort for our goats, do we? If you know the tips on how to buy goats and have gotten the perfect ones and have prepared for your goats, you know one of the regularly occurring events in goat herd maintenance is making sure they always have nicely trimmed goat hooves.
Why Should You Be Trimming Goat Hooves
Goats love to climb and their hooves are a huge part in them being able to do so. Cloven goat hooves and their partial dewclaw hoof, similar to a dew claw on a dog, help them keep a good grip and not fall. So, having nicely trimmed hooves is not just for their own goat vanity, but an essential part of goat ownership, regardless of if you are a seasoned pro or just starting your family farm.
When raising goats, trimming their hooves will help ensure that they maintain good goat health. A goat whose hooves are not trimmed properly, or regularly, can have the potential to have overgrown hooves. An overgrown hoof, or hooves, and cause them to get founder, hoof rot (aka foot rot), or just be generally uncomfortable.
We usually start checking to see if they need to be trimmed around 8 weeks of age. They may not need a trimming that young, but that is when you will want to start checking.
How Often Will You Need to Trim Goat Hooves?
Hoof trimming timing will depend on your individual goats as well as their environment. For example, if they have lots of rocks and rough surfaces to climb on their hooves will naturally be shorter and you will not have to trim as often.
You might want to make some fun DIY goat toys so that you an spend less time trimming goat hooves.
Sometimes, it just depends on the individual goat, how often you will need to trim your goat's hooves. Just like people's fingernails, different hooves grow at different rates. So, you will need to keep an eye on your goats to get an idea of when they need a trim.
We usually look at trimming our goats' hooves about 4 - 6 weeks before kidding starts as part of our kidding season preparation. And during the rest of the year, we usually do a check every month or so.
That is because we have a decently rough terrain that keeps their hooves ground down pretty well. You may want to trim every 2 - 4 weeks depending on what their area looks like.
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Goat Hoof Trimming Supplies:
Trimming a goat's hoof is easy. However, you will need at least a few supplies to get the job done.
Goat Hoof Trimmers
The one basic supply you will definitely need is a pair of goat hoof trimmers. We love this pair from Zenport. They are reasonably priced, but heavy duty enough to last a long time.
Second, you need a hoof pick.
Lastly, you will need to know how to restrain a goat for hoof trimming. There are a few ways both of which require a supply. First (and probably easiest) is to use a milk stand to restrain you goat for hoof trimming. But you can also use a collar and lead and tie the lead to the fence or other solid structure to help hold your goat in place while trimming your goats feet
Goat Hoof Trimming: A How-To Guide
Here is the exact process we use when trimming our goat's hooves. This method will work whether you are just trimming for maintenance or if your goat's hooves are overgrown.
1. You'll need to restrain your goat
We generally restrain our goats on the milk stand.
Restraining your goats for when you trim your goats hooves helps to keep them calm and give you more control while you are trimming.
Instead of using a milking/goat stand, you can also stand over them and have the same results. This generally depends on the temperament of your goat.
Or you can use a collar and lead and tie the lead to a solid structure.
Giving them some treats, or food will help keep them calm during the hoof trimming time.
2. Next you'll need to check your goat hooves.
Look at the top of your goat's hooves.
You will notice a light line around where the hair of the leg meets the hoof wall. This is the coronary band and will act as a guideline when you start to trim your goat hooves.
3. Take one hoof and look at the bottom.
You will notice it is split into two sections. This is called a cloven hoof. Each side will need to be trimmed.
If the hoof needs trimming you will see the hoof come to a point and almost appear to curve inward.
This is all excess hoof growth. When you are doing hoof trimming you will need to remove all of this excess hoof growth.
4. Use your hoof pick.
Before you start learning how to trim goat hooves, you need to get them clean.
Using your hoof pick, gently remove dirt and debris from the cavity created inside the hoof wall. If you don't clean the goat hooves out before doing your hoof trimming it makes it a lot harder to see what you are doing. Also, it is not good to leave your goat hooves super dirty; rocks, mud, animal waste, and who knows what else can get trapped behind the hoof wall and cause your goat severe discomfort.
If you go too long in between trimmings, your goat can run the risk of various goat hoof problems, like hoof rot or foot rot. This will start to present itself as a white, almost grainy, type of substance. If you spot this, clean it out and, depending on how much buildup there is along with how your goat is acting and moving/walking, you may want to either watch it for a few days or call your vet.
5. Start doing your hoof trimming.
Once the area is clear of dirt and debris, take your goat hoof trimmers and cut the excess hoof off using the coronary band as a straight line of sight.
6. You will want to trim as close to the sole of the foot as possible.
In order to be properly trimming a goat's hoof, you will want to cut off as much of the excess as you can. This means to cut as close to the sole as possible.
You want to trim slowly though, do not take off big chunks all at once.
7. Don't trim too much off!
When you trim each goat hoof do be careful not to cut into the goat's quick. Because, if you do, it can be painful for the goat and may cause bleeding. You will know that you are getting close when you see a slight pink tone in the hoof.
While trimming a goat hoof, if bleeding does occur, you can stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the area and then disinfect as needed.
Repeat this process for trimming all your goats hooves and you will have a happier more comfortable goat.
Remember, the more frequent trimming sessions you have, the easier it will be every time you do it. We aim for once a month, but check periodically between trimmings.
How often do you trim goat hooves?
You should trim goat hooves every 4 to 8 weeks. The exact timing will depend on a few variables including how quickly your individual goats hooves grow and if they have surfaces to walk and climb on that help keep their hooves shorter.
How do you trim an overgrown hooves goat?
You trim overgrown goat hooves the same as ones that are not overgrown. However, you want to make sure you take little, incremental bits off so that you don't go too far and make them sore. Sometimes it may take you a few trimming sessions to get them looking good if they are particularly unruly.
What happens if you don't trim goat hooves?
If you don't trim goat hooves they can have a whole slew of issues including hoof rot. If their hooves get too bad, it can cause them to be unable to walk.
Do you trim goats dew claws?
Yes, you do trim goats dew claws. They don't need to be done as often.
What does hoof rot in goats look like?
Hoof rot can be identified by swelling in the hoof or up by the coronary band. You may see redness or even white areas of puss. Hoof rot almost always smells awful.
If you have any questions or comments on how to trim your goats hooves, leave them below. We'd love to hear what you think.
If you need more help keeping your goats healthy and well taken care of, check out the G.O.A.T. Herd Management System - worksheets, calculators, supply management and more to keep your goats in tip top shape while cutting down on time.