Did you know that you need to trim a goats hooves on a regular basis? I’ve been trimming goat hooves for over 4 years now. It can sure seem like a difficult and risky task for somebody just starting out. But, rest assured you will get better at it the more you practice.
The world needs more fruit trees! Check out my post on How To Plant a Fruit Tree.
An affordable hoof trimming kit can be found here on amazon. It has everything you need minus the blood stopping powder.
When my wife and I first moved to our homestead, we new right away we wanted to get a herd of goats. So we immediately bought 2 nannies. One day I noticed one of my girls had weird looking feet and despite the research I had done about goats. I seemed to overlook the need for trimming hooves.
After much research and determination I had the wherewithal to get started. Beginning with a pair of tin snips (Not the best tool for the job) I started trimming each of their hooves as best I could. Overtime I began to understand the layout of the goats hooves much better.
These days I have gotten rid of my herd and I trim my neighbors herd every 3 months or so. We love to spend a nice long day with our lovely neighbors while we intermittently run some goats up the worker. While I get the trimming done. We always have a really great time.
EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO TRIM GOAT HOOVES
All you really need to trim a goats hooves are a nice pair of hoof shears. There are a few other things that are helpful to have around though.
- Hoof shears
- Small ratchet tool to tighten the shears
- Blood stop powder (All purpose flour also works)
- End nippers medium or large pair. It helps to trim away large and hard pieces before you use hoof shears.
- Goat worker or a device to help hold the goats head still while you trim. I made one with a couple of 2×4’s and a large bolt one time. Pitch a 2×4 in the ground and leave about 4 feet of it sticking out of the ground. Around 6 inches away pitch another 2×4 so it comes out of the ground about 12 inches. Drill a hole in the top of the 12 inch one and drill a hole in the end of a 3 foot long section of 2×4. Put a large bolt through both of the holes and tighten it. This will make it so you can open and close the 3 foot section of 2×4 over to the longer 2×4. Drill a screw in to the top of each of them and wrap a piece of bailers twine around one of the screws. Now when you close the goats neck in the latch, wrap the bailers twine around the other screw and it will not come apart. Effectively trapping the goats head in between the 2x4s.
- Of course it always helps to have plenty of ice cold sweet tea on trimming day. Especially in these extremely hot Oklahoma summer days.
HOW TO GET GOATS ON A WORKER
So there is no real answer to this question. There are a lot of ways to get goats to do what you want. But, most of the time it does not work out how you planned. The real answer to this question would be ANY WAY YOU CAN.
Here are some options:
- Feeding grain while they are being worked to show that its not so bad being on the worker. This will encourage them to get on the worker faster in the future.
- If your goats like being pet, petting them periodically while you are working them can be helpful.
- All of this is great and everything but, if you came to watch me trim goats. You would more than likely catch me pulling the stubborn creatures by the horns one by one into the goat worker.
- My old herd would go in their barn when I would crack a whip. It is possible to get them trained to do this with a worker. But, goats are usually frantic and timid creatures so this may scare them and make working them more difficult but again I say TRY ANYTHING YOU CAN.
- Of course a herd dog is extremely helpful but many people don’t have the need for this.
HOW TO TRIM GOAT HOOVES
- Sole: Soft pad on the interior of each of the claws.
- Wall: Hard exterior wrapping around the sole on each of the claws.
- Claw: Goats hooves split into two “toes”. These toes are actually called claws.
- Toe: Pointy part of the claws.
- Looking at a kid goats hooves before you begin trimming can be a helpful way of seeing what they should look like when they are properly trimmed.
- Honestly, this kids hooves are a little long around the edges. But, the idea is to see that there is a softer pad called a sole in the center and a tougher exterior called a wall that wraps around the sole.
- This girl has mildly overgrown hooves. As you can see the wall is wrapping under the sole.
- This will cause mild discomfort and will angle the goats ankles in an unnatural direction.
- These hooves are very overgrown and require immediate trimming.
- This can cause discomfort, rotating the ankles in an unnatural way and can become infected.
- If infection occurs you will be able to see your goat limping on the infected hoof.
- Begin by inspecting the hoof to determine the best course of action.
- I normally start trimming the wall all the way around the claw.
- Compare the two claws. The right claw has had the wall trimmed off to reveal the sole.
- Trim away all of the walls and begin trimming the sole as well.
- Keep it all even and flat. Remember that the goat will be standing on this hoof so observe how the goat stands on it and trim it accordingly.
- As you evenly cut more of the sole and walls away. You will begin to see the sole of the foot getting close to a layer that is pink.
- Pink is the stopping point. Do not cut into the pink layer.
- This pink layer is highly vascular. Meaning it has veins and arteries running through it. If you cut too deeply into the pink layer, you risk the goat losing a lot of blood.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU CUT GOATS HOOVES TOO DEEP
- This is where the blood stopping powder comes in.
- You will inevitably cut a little too deep once in a while. If you never do, then you are a better hoof trimmer than me. I try not to of course but it will more than likely happen.
- It is especially easy to cut a little too deep on the toes.
- When you cut too deep to where it bleeds, the goat will most likely jolt or pull their leg away from you. Just proceed to trimming and try not to do it again.
- Pour a liberal amount of blood stop powder over the area that is bleeding. This should cause the blood to coagulate quicker than normal.
- If you cut very deep into a vein or artery you may see blood squirting out as the heart beats. Cover the area in blood stop powder and apply pressure to the area to hold off the bleeding.
- If the goat does not stop bleeding and pours out an unhealthy amount of blood. Immediately call a vet for advice. If the goat is going to die, consider butchering the goat so it does not go to waste.
- Trim the hooves flat and down far enough to where you can see pink on all of the sole or nearly all of the sole.
WHY DO YOU NEED TO TRIM GOAT HOOVES?
The reason for this is because goats mostly come from mountainous and rocky regions. Climbing on rocks all the time wears down their hooves.
If you are in a rocky area you may not need to trim your goats hooves at all. If you are in an area with little or no rocks like me. Then you will most definitely have to trim their hooves.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I TRIM MY GOATS HOOVES?
About every few months should do the trick. If you want to do them once a month then you might save yourself a lot of trouble just getting in their and trimming away a little excess sole and wall.
We normally trim every 3 months and occasionally they are in rough shape when I get to them. But this is what works for us and it doesn’t seem to hurt the goats any.
- Blood stop powder or all purpose flour. (Optional)
- Goat worker (Optional)
- Hoof shears (Necessary)
- Ratchet tool (Optional)
- Rasp (Optional)
- End nippers (Optional)
- Inspect the hoof to see signs of hoof rot and to plan your course of action.
- Begin cutting away the walls to reveal the sole.
- Cut away the sole and the walls, keeping them even and flush. Until you have reached the pink layer all over the sole.
- Smooth it out with a rasp if you need to to give it a nice flat finish.
- If you cut too deep to where the goats hoof is bleeding (common mistake). Promptly sprinkle blood stopping powder or all purpose flour over it to stop the bleeding.
You don't want to cut into the pink layer or you will make the goat bleed. Fix the bleeding with blood stopping powder.
Observe how the goats stand on their hooves and make their hoof flush with how their ankles naturally lay.
The time of 10 minutes is per goat. Expect to spend about this amount of time on each goat. It may take you longer at first but you will get more comfortable and faster at it over time.