Goat Hoof Care, Foot Rot Prevention, and Trimming

Goat Hoof Care, Foot Rot Prevention, and Trimming

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It is very important that you take good care of your goats. One of the most important parts of taking care of your goats is taking care of their hooves. This includes goat hoof care, foot rot prevention, and trimming.

You have to trim your goats’ hooves to prevent any infection from forming. Overgrown hooves will cause discomfort for your goat when walking, and create pockets where dirt and bacteria can collect.

How often you’ll have to trim your goats’ hooves depends on many factors, such as genetics, how active it is, the type of terrain it lives on, and so on. Typically, you should trim their hooves every 2-4 weeks.

What kind of a hoof does a goat have?

A hoof is the tip of the toe. The keratine covering strengthens it. Most people think of horses when they think of hooves. Unlike horses, goat hooves are made up of 2 split toes. The outer part of the toes, shaped like a parabola when seen from below, is called a wall and is hard, and the sole is soft and rubbery. It also has two dewclaw hooves higher up on the back of its pastern which is smaller and aids in maintaining traction.

This parabolic shape of the hoof adds strength, and the soft and cushy sole provides traction on sloped surfaces and can deform inwards to absorb irregularities in the terrain.

Both toes can work separately, so the goat can use just one if it has to.

Goat hoof care

Hoof care is a really important part of taking care of goats, regardless if you’re keeping them as pets or using them for goat products. 

Healthy hooves

The best way to maintain healthy hooves is to give your goat enough mineral supplement and make sure your goat has a well-balanced diet with sufficient protein. 

To maintain your goat’s hooves healthy, make sure to clean it’s living area. The goat’s bedding should be mucked often and replaced with clean straw or pine chips. This is done to limit the hooves’ exposure to bacteria. 

It is also very important that you keep your goat’s bedding and pasture dry. If hooves are exposed to a damp environment for a long amount of time, the moisture will penetrate the hooves. It will soften them and make them brittle and prone to infection or hoof rot.

When introducing your goat to a new pasture make sure you inspect the ground for metal or glass debris that could cause injury.

Hoof problems

One common hoof problem is laminitis. Laminitis is when the sensitive tissue beneath the hard walls of the hoof swells. This causes pain, lameness, and eventually founder. Founder happens when the hoof wall gets thick and overgrown, which will often cause toes to turn up. Sometimes hooves can be permanently damaged. Some things that could cause laminitis are sudden or extreme changes in the diet, trauma, or severe bacterial infections.

It is possible that your goat doesn’t show any signs of mild laminitis other than the overgrown hooves, often with the layers of the hoof wall separating from the tissue under it as the hoof grows out. In some serious cases, goats can grind their teeth in pain and walk on their knees. Another sign of laminitis could behoove that feels hot to touch. You can prevent laminitis by changing diets slowly, avoiding an overload of grain, and preventing or treating acidosis.

Another problem with hooves is hoof abscesses. They are usually caused by an injury to a hoof that allows the bacteria to get inside the hoof. Symptoms of abscesses include lameness from pain and, as the abscess works out of the hoof, and swelling at the hairline just above the hoof. You can treat hoof abscesses by trimming and treating the infected area and using antibiotics. The best way to prevent abscesses.

Granulomas can also be caused by injuries to the hoof. Granulomas are round, red swellings of flesh that grow at the place of injury and keep the hard part of the hoof wall from growing normally. They can bleed easily. Symptoms of granulomas are lameness and odd-shaped hooves or hoof walls.

Shelly hoof is a problem that causes the white line where the soft and hard part of the hoof meets to break down due to poor hoof care. It can result in infections and there are usually no symptoms of the shelly hoof. 

Foot rot prevention

What is foot rot?

Contagious rot is a very common infection of sheep that is caused by bacteria that live in the soil. This bacteria is easily carried onto a farm on the feet of infected animals or on shoe soles. There are two types of bacteria that are commonly associated with foot rot and they are Dichelobacter nodosus and Fusobacterium necrophorum. Both of these bacterias thrive in moist soil conditions. They are very difficult to control or eliminate when the soil is contaminated. 

Signs of foot rot

The rotting of the foot is a more aggressive progression of foot scald, which is inflammation between the toes that usually affects one foot. It is less common to see a moist, raw infection of the skin between the toes that becomes painful. The rot can occur on one or more hooves, which causes severe lameness. The most typical sign of foot rot is when goats graze on their knees. 

The foot that is affected by foot rot is going to be very pink to red, and the skin between the toes will be slimy and foul-smelling. If you don’t treat foot rot early enough, the bacterial toxins will break down the hoof wall and sole of the foot, which will result in the hoof wall loosening and detaching from the foot. Precursors of foot rot are usually cracked or damaged hooves, and diets deficient in certain minerals.

Foot rot treatment

The most effective treatment of foot rot is systemic treatment with antibiotics with or without trimming of the hoof. Trimming is recommended to remove excess tissue that provides a place for the bacteria to thrive. The conditions are treatable, however, they take time and can be quite expensive. Another treatment you can do is to trim the hoof and remove all infected sole that has separated from the underlying tissues. After you have trimmed the feet, the goat should stand for at least 5 minutes with all feet in a medicated foot bath made out of 10% copper or zinc sulfate. Foot rot should be greatly reduced if this process is repeated once a week for four weeks. Make sure you consult with a veterinarian first. 

Foot rot prevention

One way you can prevent your goat heard from becoming infected with foot rot is to carefully examine a goat’s feet before buying it. You shouldn’t buy lame animals. 

Make sure you quarantine all new heard members for at least 30 days. You should also quarantine all goats that have left the farm and possibly been exposed to contaminated soil.

If possible, don’t buy goats from sale barns because most animals that have failed treatment are taken there. 

Keep in mind that you should provide good drainage to all areas in pastures and paddocks where water tends to pool or fence these areas off because the bacterial will often collect there. 

Barns should be kept clean and dry. 

Gutters and drainage systems can be used to prevent the development of muddy areas around housing structures.

Do you have to trim goat hooves?

The goat hoof is a cloven hoof. This split hoof provides a space between the two halves where moisture, dirt, and manure can be trapped. An environment that is moist and warm promotes bacterial and fungal growth. If the hooves are overgrown, on the outer edges, folding under the hoof, you will have a big problem. 

What happens if you don’t trim goat hooves?

All parts of goat hooves don’t grow at the same time. The side walls to the goat’s hoof grow faster than they wear down and that’s why you need to trim them. In nature, these walls get worn and trimmed by the rocks the goat walks and climbs on. When the sidewall grows too long, it curves around over the sole of the foot. This creates a place where dirt collects and rot can start.

If you regularly trim your goat’s hooves, you will keep it free of rot and you will make walking more comfortable for your goats. They will be more active and productive. If you don’t trim your goat’s feet for a long time, it will be harder for you to do it properly. That’s why it’s best to frequently trim your goat’s hooves. If you trim your goat’s feet regularly, you will reduce the chance of infectious and non-infectious hoof lesions from developing. Long and overgrown hooves are an animal welfare concern. 

Goat hoof trimming

To trim your goat’s hooves, you will need hoof trimmers, a milking station, and some blood stop powder. Make sure that your hoof trimmers are sharp, then you’ll be able to make quick cuts, which can reduce stress on the goat and you. Dull hoof trimmers will only make the process more difficult. If you’re using extra strength to make up for dull equipment, you could end up putting a strain on your goat’s joints. 

You can also keep a spray bottle with soapy water and a paper towel nearby to wash the hoof before cutting. This way, you will minimize the chance of infection, make it easier to trim, and your hoof trimmers will be less likely to become dull. You should also keep a container with disinfectant to dip your tools between animals to prevent the transfer of contagious hoof lesions. 

It’s best to trim after rain or snowfall because your goat’s hooves will be much softer and easier to trim after a day in a wet pasture. That being said, hooves can become very hard during long periods of extremely cold weather, so make sure you don’t trim them when it’s too cold outside. 

Some people prefer wearing thick work gloves for the trimming process to keep their hands protected. It makes the whole process easier and more comfortable for them and for the goat. 

  1. Start by placing your goat on the milking station. Goats don’t like having their hooves trimmed, so it’s best to keep them on a milking stand for everyone’s safety. You should put some grain in the bucket of the stand to encourage the goat to keep your goat’s mind off trimming. You will want to give them their favorite grain, or some treats that they rarely get.
  2. Begin the hoof trimming process by grabbing the hoof that you’re working on and bending it at the knee. This will allow you to get a better grip and be in a better position to work on the hoof itself. The goat is going to be distressed, so let it stomp its feet and try to flop you off of its hoof before you begin the trimming process.
  3. It is best you sit behind the goat rather than next to it. 
  4. Bend the hoof back at the knee. Line the clippers with the overgrown part of the hoof and clip that part off. Start trimming at the front and go to the back hoof. Then start at the other back hoof and finish on the opposite front hoof. This will keep you from moving too much. 
  5. Make sure you are trimming the hooves very slowly. Try to make smooth, shallow strokes so you don’t cut too close. When the hoof begins to turn pink it means that you’re close to the blood flow in the hoof. If you cut too close, add some blood stop powder. 
  6. If you don’t have a milking station, or you don’t feel confident that you can trim your goat’s hooves, you can stack 5-6 cinder blocks up in a pyramid formation. Since goats love to climb, they will jump up and down the pyramid formation. This will trim your goats’ hooves. Make sure to change out cinder blocks every once in a while because the goats will wear them down and they will smooth and lose their effect. 

If you happen to cut goats’ hooves too close it will limp for a couple of hours. If your goat keeps limping for a few days, check the goat hooves again and make sure there is no infection. If you find any signs of infection, contact your vet.

When you trim your goat’s hooves unevenly, it will be difficult for it to walk. If your goat is struggling to walk after you’ve trimmed its feet, check the hooves and try to even them up. 

In case that your goat’s hoove is very outgrown, you need to call in a professional. They will care for overgrown hooves in a multi-step process.

It’s common for a goat to have a separation between the sole and hoof wall, which gets filled with dirt and debris which can lead to other hoof issues. Sometimes, you will be able to open up or even trim out the entire pocket but sometimes the pocket can be too deep. If this happens, contact your vet.  

How often should you trim goat hooves?

How often you will have to trim your goat’s hooves depends on many factors, such as genetics, age, breed, nutrition, and housing. If the goat lives in rocky conditions the hoof will wear against the ground and it will need less frequent trimming than a goat that lives in a grass pasture. It is best to check your goat’s hooves once a week to see how fast they are growing. This will give you an idea of how often you should trim them. 

On average, you should trim your goat’s hooves every 2–4 weeks.

How much does it cost to trim goat hooves?

The price of trimming goat hooves depends on your location. Some professionals will charge you around $40-$50 per goat, while others charge $10 for the first 5, and $5 for the rest. Some professionals will charge you by the hour, so it’s best to figure out if it’s cheaper to get the one that charges by the hour or by the goat. 

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