How I trim my Goats Hooves…
It’s hard to believe, but I am getting close to the four year anniversary of getting my goats… FOUR YEARS! And if my maths isn’t as atrocious as I sometimes worry it is, that equates to nearly 100 hoof trims (spread over the 3 goats), because I like to keep on top of their hooves so that they don’t grow too long or uncomfortable. I am definitely no expert at this but I definitely have the hang of it now, so I thought I would share my top tips and advice for trimming your goat’s feet – and I suppose a similar technique could be adapted for sheep too.
When we first picked up our goats, the breeder showed us how to trim their feet (at her kitchen table!) and then we were left to our own devices… We relied heavily on tips and tricks from various websites and videos at first and had all of the basic information available to us, but obviously you have no idea how your goats are going to respond to having their hooves trimmed and what is going to work best for you and them until you give it a go!
After a month or so, we decided to embark on our first hoof trimming mission, and seeing as they were still tiny I was able to hold the goats almost like babies in order to get to their feet to trim them. This, however, does not last as they get bigger! So if you want to start off foot care like this then be prepared that you will have to adapt your technique as your goats get bigger, heavier and their horns grow to be more of a weapon…
Now that our goats are full grown, I find that the easiest way to contain them for a foot trim is to use a sheep halter. You can find these at stores such as Countrywide/Mole Valley, but I picked mine up from a western shop in Canada so they are very brightly coloured! I prefer a halter to a neck collar as is distributes the force and is more gentle on the goats, they seem to respond better to signals on the halter than they did on a neck collar as well.
In terms of equipment, you will need, obviously a good pair of foot shears or whatever you may like to call them is essential. We picked up a pair from our local countrywide, and although this isn’t the exact pair they are very similar: https://www.countrywidefarmers.co.uk/lightweight-footrot-shears
In terms of the cuts you are making to the hoof wall, you want to remove any excess growth on the sides, at the toe and the heel. This diagram I found online shows the areas you should be working on. As well as this I like to take a hoof pick (yes a horse hoof pick!), one with a brush at one end, and brush out any dirt from the hoof also make sure to dislodge any small stones that may have found their way into the feet.
If you make a cut too deeply and a small bleed occurs, do not panic! Just have some iodine spray, or some of that purple spray that seems to be entirely magical, on hand to spray the affected area and allow your goat to stand, preferably on dry ground, as the pressure will stop the bleeding.
I hope this has been helpful or at least interesting to some of you, if you have any tips or tricks for trimming your goats’ feet I would love to hear them!