Hoof care in any animal species is a vital part of their management. Goats’ hooves require regular trimming and inspection to determine if there are any hoof problems that could lead to lameness or infection that can be spread among the herd, such as contagious foot rot.
Depending on the environment goats live in, they may need more or less frequent trimming. For example, goats living in rocky conditions where the hoof will wear against the ground may need less frequent trimming than a goat that lives in a grass pasture. Be familiar with the environment your goats live in and keep accurate records of when you perform hoof care. This will help you determine an appropriate schedule for your herd.
Hooves should not be allowed to over-grow as this keeps the animal walking properly. The goal of the trim should be to make the bottom of the hoof be flat and at the same angles as the hair line at the top of the hoof. All dirt and manure should be removed from the hoof prior to trimming. Michigan State University Extension recommends using a hoof pick or the tips of the hoof trimmers to do this. The walls, or sides, and heels should be trimmed flat with the sole. To view the proper way to trim your goats’ hooves, visit eXtension’s Goat Basic Hoof Care or check out Oklahoma State University’s How To Trim Goat Hooves video on Youtube.
Make sure to wear some good leather gloves that protect you, along with making sure you have enough dexterity to use your trimmers.
Here are a few items that I like to use:
Trimming Stand - Premier One's Trimming Stand for Goats and Sheep
I bought the side rails as well. I made my own ramp out of a 1/4 sheet of plywood and reinforced the bottom with 2x3s. I added anti-slip tape to the top of the plywood so the goats will have traction getting up the ramp.
Hoof trimmers - The best hoof trimmers I've found are also from Premier One (I do not have any affiliation with Premier One). ARS 140DXR Hoof Trimmers. I use the non-serrated version.
Every so often, you might trim a little too much, and the hoofs might bleed. Always keep a bottle of Hoof 'N Heel on hand. It's also helpful with any hoof rot that you may encounter. You can find it most of your farm supply stores.
I trim my goats hooves every 2 months, but that's the sweet spot I've found with my goats and with the environment my goats are in. Your goats may need them trimmed sooner or later.
As always, when trimming your goats’ hooves, pay attention to the health of the hoof. Look for any signs of founder, abscesses, contagious hoof rot or granuloma. Goats that may have hoof infections should be treated accordingly.