How To Trim Goat Hooves Safely? A Beginner’s Guide

trim goat hooves safely

Goats, as well as hoofed animals, need regular trimming to walk normally. A strict trimming routine can keep the herd healthy.

Trimming goat hooves isn’t as complicated as you first thought. For those who are new to raising goats, this article is written to provide insightful knowledge about how to trim goat hooves.

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Why do you have to trim goat hooves?

Overgrown goat hooves can cause difficulties in walking. Trimming makes the hoof flat at the bottom and the same angle as the above hairline.

Hoof trimming is an essential part of goat farming to maintain a healthy herd. Goat hooves need to be trimmed and checked regularly to see if there are any hoof problems or infections (like granuloma and hoof rot) that could potentially spread out to the herd.

hoof rot in goat
Trimming goat hooves to prevent hoof rot

What to use to trim goat hooves?

Here are all of the goat hoof trimming tools you probably will need.

The main tools to trim the hooves are 2 types of hoof clippers: a shear and a knife.

Apart from these two, you may need a brush to clean the goat’s foot, a rasp to flatten the hooves. It is also better to handle this task wearing a pair of gloves.

If you are afraid of bleeding during trimming, preparing some blood-stop powder will help.

You can easily buy all the tools mentioned above online or at the local shops. For the clippers and rasp, it is better to have them sharpened before starting the trimming process.

best goat hoof trimmer reviews

How to know when to trim goat hooves?

When the goat hooves are out of shape or overgrown, they are likely to curl under and trap dirt. This is the right time to give them a good trimming. Any delay can lead to hoof infection.

A practical tip is soft hooves make the trimming easier. That’s why the best time to do the trimming is after the rain or snowfall when the goat hooves are softened.

How to trim goat hooves with 5 steps?

Trimming goat hooves can be scary if you are not familiar with the process. The goat can make trimming even harder if he is agitated.

Our advice for you is to take the time to learn. After a while, you will get comfortable with each step.

Step 1: Restrain the goat

Since your goat won’t love every single step of the trimming process, it is better to have him restrained before starting. This is to prevent him from kicking or running away.

If you have a fidgety goat, tie him to a post or a fence. You can also have someone strong to hold him while trimming.

Whatever it is, placing the goat on a milking stand helps you easily grab and look at each hoof.

Step 2: Clean the hooves

This step will make the hooves exposed fully without being covered by dirt and grime. This makes it easier for you to determine where to trim.

Simply use a brush to brush off anything sticking on the hooves. Dirt and grime after a while can form a hard, thick cover on the goat’s hooves. Don’t forget to clean the inside of the hoof as well.

Step 3: Start with the front nail

Begin the trimming with the front nail. Lift your goat’s foot and use the hoof shears to clip the tip of the nail.

Continue clipping in a straight line until a white surface appears. This is an indication for you to stop. Clipping into a pink surface may result in bleeding.

Step 4: Cut the sides of the hoof

After you’ve finished with the front nails, continue to the sides. Repeat the same process with all the toes and heels. Remember to not go further to the pink area.

Step 5: Make the bottom flat

The last step of trimming is flattening the hooves. You can use either a rasp or a hoof knife.

If you are using the knife, make strokes starting from the toe. If you are using a rasp, do it the opposite, from the heel.

Keep trimming until you have a flat bottom surface of the hoof.

How a trimmed hoof looks like?

The hoof when done trimming should be flat on the bottom. Flat hooves make it easier for the goat to walk on the ground.

The length of each toe should be the same. Look at the hooves of a newborn goat, this is what healthy, properly trimmed hooves should look like.

before and after goat hoof trimming
Before & after goat hoof trimming – Source: Backyardgoats.iamcountryside.com

What if the hooves are extremely overgrown?

If the goat hooves are left uncared for a long time, they will be overgrown. In this case, you may have to split the trimming into smaller sessions instead of doing it altogether.

First, work with their lengths then come back after about a week to finish.

Always look for a consultancy from the local vet if you are not sure how to handle these unusual occasions.

What if the goat hooves are smelly?

Goat’s hooves can be smelly if they catch a disease called “foot scald”. This disease is a result of an inappropriate amount of sulfur and copper in the goat’s meals.

This situation can be treated by adjusting the goat’s diet and removing all the unhealthy tissue on their hooves. If you are not confident doing this yourself, ask for help from a local vet.

Tips for better goat hoof caring

Healthy hooves are necessary for a healthy goat. Along with regular trimming, your goat’s hooves will need proper caring on every living day.

goat hoof caring

1. Apply blood stop powder if needed

While trimming, always avoid going into the pink area as it will cause the goat to bleed.

If this accidentally happens, don’t panic. Gently apply blood stop powder.

Make sure to read the instructions before use to understand all the warnings and considerations.

2. Use foot bath in the goats’ pen

You can soak your goat’s feet regularly in copper or zinc sulfide liquid to kill bacteria that can cause foot rot.

You can build a small bath inside the pen. Then, your goats can walk through it daily.

3. Create a rocky area

As you know, goats living in rough, mountainous areas will have their hooves naturally sharpened.

Therefore, many farmers have tried to recreate the same environment by putting large rocks on the goat’s area. This can decrease the need for hoof trimming.

FAQs 

1. How often to trim goat hooves?

Generally, goats need to have their hooves trimmed at least 4 times every year. But, it depends on the goat’s breed and its habitat. Some need to be trimmed every two weeks, while others may not for two to three months.

Besides, not all goat’s hooves need the same trimming routine, as they may take different times to grow. The front hooves usually grow slowlier than the back ones.

Therefore, you should check regularly to see when and which hoof should be trimmed.

2. How to hold a goat to trim hooves?

If you don’t have anyone to help, it is better to place your goat on a milk stand when trimming. This will help you have easier access to all feet.

If your goats start to panic once the brush touches his leg, don’t force him right away but work slowly toward it. The goat will need time to learn to stand on 3 legs. So, let your goat a bit of time to get familiar.

You can brush the milk stand surface first until your goat gets used to the activity then lightly touch his leg. Avoid trimming while your goat is still scared and likely to kick.

The best way is to help your goats get used to the process is to let them practice when they are still young.

goat on milk stand when trimming hooves
Goat on milk stand when trimming hooves – Source: Backyardgoats.iamcountryside.com

3. How to trim baby goat hooves?

Baby goats don’t need as much trimming as adult ones. You can lightly trim their hooves using the hoof trimmer. Remember to start from the front nail first, then move on the back and finally the heel.

2. When to trim baby goat hooves?

Baby goat hooves don’t usually need trimming during their first 4 weeks of age. Many farmers still make a light trimming as soon as the goat is 3-4 weeks old. This is just to make him have the idea of “a real trimming” later.

Final words 

Goat hoof trimming isn’t a burden. It is a steady routine to keep your herd happy and healthy.

We hope this post has been helpful to you. Share with us your experience on how to trim goat hooves or any concerns about goat hoof caring!

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