The truth is goat hooves don’t stop growing, similar to a human fingernail. So, if they aren’t maintained, they can cause many problems for the animal.
Overgrown goat hooves can be painful and cause injury, arthritis, and other problems for the animal.
Whether raising goats, or sheep, hoof care is a crucial component of your herd management. To successfully raise your herd of goats, you must be prepared to trim hooves.
The Basics of Goat and Sheep Hoof Trimming
Before attempting to trim your goats’ hooves, there are a few things to keep in mind. Skimming over these important tips could be dangerous for you and your goat.
It’s much too easy to slip and cut yourself or your goat if you don’t know how to approach the project.
With that being said, here’s what you should know before you start trimming your goat’s hoof.
Understand the Anatomy of a Goat or Sheep Hoof
First, it’s essential to understand the anatomy of the hoof and how it grows so you have a goal in mind for what the hoof should look like when trimming is complete.
The hoof consists of the toe, the heel, and the sole. The toe protrudes from the front, while the heel extends from the back of the “foot.”
The sole is the bottom of the hoof, which comes into contact with the ground.
The hoof grows from the coronary band, which is the junction between the hoof and the skin. Additionally, the front of the hoof grows faster than the back, which causes “elf” feet on goats with long hooves.
Hoof Trimming Tools You’ll Need
You’ll need proper tools and equipment before you can begin trimming your herd’s hooves.
You’ll need the following:
- A hoof trimmer or Dremel
- A hoof knife
- A rasp
- Trimming stand or chute
- Blood stop (in case of accidental injury)
The hoof knife removes excess hoof material from the toe and heel. The rasp is used to smooth the hooves, and the trimmer is used to trim the toe.
There are a few different tools for trimming a goat’s hoof, but the most common and effective tool is a hoof trimmer specifically designed to trim and shape goat hooves. Trimmers usually have a curved blade that enable you to reach the nooks and crannies of the hoof. Some trimmers are serrated to prevent accidental slippage while trimming.
More and more farmers are turning to Dremel tools explicitly created for trimming hooves. There’s a learning curve when using tools like this, but either way, it can take a bit to get used to trimming hooves in general.
How Often to Trim Goat Hooves
Goats are notorious for having overgrown hooves, so it’s essential to trim them regularly. In the wild goats hooves are filed down naturally by the terrain in which they natively inhabit. But a goat standing in a farmyard or field will need help with their hooves.
How often you trim them depends on how fast they grow, diet, and the terrain of your farm.
If you have a particularly active goat, you may need to trim its hooves every few months. However, if your goat is primarily sedentary, you might have to trim more often.
How to Handle Goats During Hoof Trimming
As you might imagine, goats and sheep (or any livestock, for that matter) don’t necessarily like to have their hooves touched. To make matters worse, it’s not natural for them to stand in a way that makes it easier for us to trim their hooves safely.
For example, when we trim hooves, we often use tables and restraints and ask our animals to lift their foot off the ground so we can access the bottom. These postures aren’t typical for our animals and can create issues with balance, fear, and comfort for the animal.
We prefer to trim hooves quickly and painlessly with tools like a Spin Trim Chute. Trim chutes safely (and gently) turn the animal on its side so hoof trimming can be completed quickly and without much of a struggle for the animal.
In other words, the process is less stressful because the goat can get its trim job and go on its merry way.