The hooves of goats are made from a hard material called keratin. Human skin, hair, and nails are formed of this same protein. Trimming these hooves can seem like a stressful ordeal. It can make homesteading appear really strenuous.
Thankfully, with these instructions, you will be able to safely and efficiently trim the hooves of your goat.
As mentioned above, goat hooves are assembled from the same material as human nails. Humans have to cut their nails for hygiene purposes. Likewise, goats need to have their hooves trimmed regularly.
A goat may be unable to walk if its hooves grow too much. This can also be quite painful for your goats and could lead to them developing other health problems.
If you do not trim your goat’s hooves, they could become infected. For instance, they could develop footrot. This disease is easy to identify in your goat. A goat with a footrot will become lame.
They will also be less able to produce milk and wool. This can make it quite a costly disease to develop, especially if you are reliant on your goats producing these commodities.
Though footrot is treatable, it is better to simply prevent this or other infections from occurring by frequently trimming your goat’s hooves.
There are a handful of items that you will need in order to crop the hooves of your goat. These include:
- Gloves – these will keep your hands hygienic. As you may have imagined, hoof trimming is not a dirtless affair. If your hands are unclean, your goat is more likely to pick up an infection.
- A hoof trimmer and hoof knife – these will be essential to performing this task. These specialist pieces of equipment can be bought online for reasonable prices. For example, there are plenty of items on Amazon.
- Brush – this will be used to clean the hooves.
- Blood stop powder – if all goes to plan, you will not need this item. However, it is a good idea to have it on hand just in case anything goes wrong. Your goat may begin to bleed, meaning you can stop these minor accidents from bleeding.
- Milking stool (optional) – should only be used for calm goats.
- Rope – this can be used to restrain your goat.
- If you can wait until after it has rained or snowed to trim the hooves. The reason for this is that these weather conditions will naturally make a goat’s hooves much softer. This will make your job more simple. Obviously, it is not always possible to schedule this, particularly during warmer periods of the year.
- Put on your gloves. Doing so will protect your hands from dirt.
- Position your goat. You will need some form of restraint in order to hold your goat in place. This will stop them from escaping or trying to wriggle about when you are trimming their hooves. For most goats, the simplest technique is to tie them to a post. However, if you find that your goat is especially timid and gentle, you can merely place them on a milking stool.
- Brush the hooves. This functions as a method of washing them. This will get rid of the dirt and mud on the hooves of your goat. You should only begin doing this once your goat has relaxed a bit.
- Now you can begin the actual trimming process. This is a delicate process. Goats have an area on their hooves known as the quick. This area should be avoided because it is vulnerable and made of softer material to the rest of the hoof. If you do cut it, the quick will begin bleeding. To stop the bleeding, use blood stop powder.
- Trim the front nail using the trimmers. Do this piece by piece. Once the hoof becomes a whitish color, you should stop. At this point, you will have reached the more sensitive area of the hoof. Ensure that your cutting is straight.
- After finishing the front of the nail, you can move onto the sides. Again, you should be using the trimmer for this stage. Once you reach the white-colored part, you should stop trimming. It is imperative that you maintain the right hoof shape for your goat. Otherwise, their walking could become unbalanced.
- You may also need to trim the claw at the back of a goat’s leg. This can be done by using the trimmer. This area is known as the Dewclaw.
- Ensure that the hoof is flat. To help you do this, it is advised that you use the hoof knife. This tool is great for leveling off. It may take a few swipes for you to manage this so be sure to take your time with it.
- Check that the hooves look normal. If there are any signs of infection, you should have them treated. If they are fine, release the goat from their restraint.
- Repeat these steps for each hoof. If you have more than one goat, also repeat them for each goat.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Should I Trim These Hooves
There is debate around the frequency with which you should do this. As a rough guide, you should aim to trim them at least every 6 weeks.
However, it is recommended that you do it more frequently, approximately once every 4 weeks. This will depend on how busy your lifestyle is, as you may not always have the time to do this.
Of course, it is important not to leave it for too long so you should always try to arrange a time to have this task done.
Another way you can tell if a goat needs its hooves trimmed is by looking at them. If the hooves are looking quite long or are beginning to curl, you should definitely consider trimming them urgently.
At What Age Should You Start Trimming The Hooves Of A Goat?
Though it might seem harsh to trim a young goat, it is necessary. In addition, it will get them used to the practice. You should begin once they are a few weeks old.