Domesticated goats need their hooves trimmed regularly to aid movement and prevent infection. So if you want to maintain a healthy herd, you need to learn how to trim goat hooves and also pay attention to goat hoof care. In addition, you may also want to ask how much does it cost to trim goat hooves? Most professionals charge around $40-$50. However, trimming a goat’s hooves is quite easy and doesn’t have to cost you a penny. You can get a grip of it by following this guide.
Signs that it is time to trim
Before you learn how to trim goat hooves, it is important to know how to determine the right time to trim. To do this, pay attention to the hoof walls and check to examine their growth regularly. They typically grow past a goat’s foot and may even curl on the toe if left unchecked for too long. This may cause pain for the goat while also providing a place for pockets of mud, manure and dirt to the hideout.
After a while, the growth may extend to the heel, which will create an uneven surface for the goat to walk on. If you have not been checking your goat’s feet, but you notice that the animal experiences difficulty walking, you may be far past due to a trimming already. Generally, it is recommended that goat hooves be trimmed every 6-8 weeks.
Tips for trimming overgrown goat hooves
Knowing how to identify a goat with a bothersome foot is just the first step to trimming the hooves. Now that you can identify the telltale signs, here are tips on how to trim goat hooves that are overgrown.
1. Gather the supplies for hoof trimming
The first thing to do is to have all the tools ready. You don’t want to start looking for material when you’re halfway into the trimming process. So here are the basic items you will need:
- Hoof shears: Make sure they are sharpened.
- Towel or brush: For dusting or wiping off the goat’s foot before trimming.
- Gloves: Goat feet can be quite messy, so you will need this.
- Treats: To help distract the goat while you’re trimming as well as help it associate the process with good things.
- Milking stand: While this is optional, it can make things easier for you by reducing the goat’s movement while you trim.
- Blood stop powder: This is also optional, but it will come handy should you accidentally cut too deep.
2. Soften the hooves
If you’ve neglected your goat’s hooves for some time, consider softening the hooves to make the process easier. Some herders even prefer trimming after rain or snowfall, but if you live in an area where snow or rain is unlikely, there are other ways to go about it. For example, you can dampen some grass using a hose and let the goats play on it for some time.
Alternatively, you can just stick each hoof in a bucket for five minutes. Expectedly, they will try to take it out, but you can minimize the resistance by giving them some grain while you are at it to keep them distracted. This method is widely preferred because it helps soften the hoof while cleaning it up at the same time.
3. Secure the goat
A couple of ‘how to trim hooves on a goat’ guides often omit this step, but the truth is that goats are not huge fans of having their hooves trimmed. It’s likely that they will resist and not cooperate with you, so you need to restrain the goat before you start trimming.
The ideal way to do this is to place the goat on the milking stand and then place the treat in the bucket of the stand to encourage the goat to be happy. Placing the goat on a milk stand makes it easier to reach the goat’s hooves.
4. Clean the hooves
Now that you have successfully secured the goat, you need to have a clear sight of its feet. To ascertain where to trim, use the brush or towel to dust or wipe off any dirt on the exterior of the hooves. Any manure, dirt or grime should be thoroughly removed.
5. Start with the front nail and workaround
Once your goat is restrained, start by nipping away the front nails using your hoof shears. Keep clipping the overgrown portion at the front of their hoof wall until you see a white surface emerge. The white material is an indication that you have fully trimmed the front nails and clipping further might cause painful bleeding for the goat. Try as much as you can to trim in a straight line so the hooves will be level to the ground.
6. Move on to the back feet
This is usually the hardest part to trim, and the reason is not farfetched. When a large predator chases a goat, the back of its leg is where it tries to grab to pull the goat down. So don’t be surprised if your goat gets alarmed when you reach for its back feet. A good way to calm it down is to speak in soothing sounds while driving its attention to the treats.
Use your shears to trim off the bulky parts of the sole in the back and be careful not to over-cut into it. Like the front nails, you will know you have cut enough when you see the white material, and it starts to turn slightly pinkish. Consider sitting behind the goat instead of beside it so you can have a clear view and a better grip.
One of the questions most people ask at this point is how to trim goat hooves the right way. While some believe that that you should work quickly, it is actually better to trim slowly, so you don’t cut too close. Trimming slowly allows you to cut the hooves nice without causing the goat to bleed.
7. Evaluate the process
No guide on ‘how to trim goat hooves’ is complete without proper evaluation. Once you have completed all four feet, let the goat wander so you can evaluate their motion to spot any bothersome foot. Their body language will communicate how well they’re able to walk, and then you can make the necessary adjustments.
As with every other thing, you will likely make the mistake of cutting a little too deep. Don’t beat yourself up; everyone slips on occasions. Just sprinkle some powder on the affected area to and apply a little pressure to stop the bleeding.