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Goat hooves are somewhat analogous to the human finger and toenails, though several differences abound. The hoof of a goat is cloven, meaning that it is parted. A close examination of a goat’s hoof reveals that it is, actually, a “hoof with hooves”. This just means that a hoof is further divided into two main hooves and two minor dewclaw hooves that function independently. Like the human finger and toenails, a goat’s hooves grow continuously and, therefore, need pruning from time to time. So, here goes the billion-dollar question: how do I trim goat hooves and when should I trim them?
Assemble the instruments needed, secure your goat, inspect the hoof, have a clear picture of what you want your goat’s hoof to look like, prune any excess hoof, and use the hoof knife to sweep from heel to toe to remove any overgrown sole and wall. The hooves of a goat should be trimmed once in 6 weeks and hoof trimming is best started at 4 weeks of age.
Wild goats, by virtue of the rough and sometimes rocky terrain they live in, have their hooves automatically trimmed for them by friction. Domesticated goats, unlike their wild counterparts, are usually housed in farmlands with hay- or grass-covered surfaces. This eliminates the friction needed to cut down their burgeoning hooves to size, hence the need for a periodic “pedicure” for these animals.
In the remainder of this piece, you will learn: how to trim goat hooves, how regularly your goat’s hooves should undergo trimming, and what age is best to start trimming, and so on. I will do well to answer every question you have and from my wealth of experience give you the information you need to keep your goat’s hooves clean and trimmed.
How to Trim Goat Hooves
As stated earlier, goats should undergo hoof pruning from time to time. Long hooves are not only uncomfortable, they are also unhealthy because they can predispose the goat to develop foot rot. Trimming a goat’s hoof requires a great deal of time and a little bit of skill (no to worry, after reading this, you will have the requisite knowledge and skill needed to prune your goat’s hooves).
First, it is important to assemble the instruments needed to prune your goat’s hoof—a pair of thick work gloves, a hard brush, a hoof knife, and pruning shears. Preferably, you should have them in some sort of bag or kit so you don’t run into the trouble of having to look for them each time you want to carry out a hoof trimming.
Secondly, secure your goat. Now, this may be a tedious task depending on the modality of your domestication. If your goats are free to roam around, you may need to get a second body to help but if it is tied up, all the better. One way to avoid the stress of chasing your goat is to do the pruning very early in the morning when it is still very much asleep or just waking up. Also, you may want to make the experience a pleasurable one for the goat by feeding it while attending to its hoof. That way, the goat is more pliable and amenable whenever you want to trim its hooves.
Now that you have secured the goat, what next? Inspect the hoof thoroughly. Take your time to look at the hoof. Is there an aggregation of dirt or debris? If there is an agglomeration of dirt in between the hooves, use the hard brush to remove them. Next, determine what your ‘dream hoof’ is. The idea behind this is to not delve into trimming without having a clear picture of what you want your goat’s hoof to look like after pruning. Ideally, the aim should be to achieve a kid’s hoof status i.e. the pruning should bring your goat’s hoof closer to looking like that of a kid.
Furthermore, prune any excess hoof that has grown over the goat’s sole using the pruning shears. Though this can be done with any instrument, the pruning shears give more precision and grip. After this is done, use the hoof knife to sweep from heel to toe to remove any overgrown sole and wall. This serves to smoothen things out and provide a more balanced footing for the goat.
You have done a good trimming of your goat’s hoof if: (a) the coronary band of the hoof is parallel to the ground, (b) the sole is flat, and (c) you can see a tinge of pink under the goat’s sole.
How to Trim Overgrown Goat Hooves
Overgrown hooves are not good for both the goat and the owner. When a goat’s hooves are left to grow unrestrained, it becomes susceptible to foot rot. This can become a focus for microbes to fester and thus can make the goat fall sick. And every animal farmer is aware of the simple fact that a sick animal is a heavy burden. So, you would want to prevent your beloved animal from falling sick by getting to trim its hoof when it is due.
Overgrown hooves are trimmed using the same procedure outlined above. In addition, you can make it a pleasant experience for the goat by giving it a meal whilst you prune its hooves.
Do You Have to Trim Goat Hooves?
Trimming goat hooves is actually non-negotiable. Imagine having to leave your goat’s hooves to grow without pruning for, say, 6 months. The hooves become extremely overgrown, and harbor all manner of things: from feces to all kinds of debris. These things become an epicenter for microbes. They grow, multiply and soon your beloved goat’s foot begins to decay.
Also, an overgrown hoof makes movement difficult for a goat. The incongruence of its sole makes movement very challenging and, sometimes, painful. This is evident from the awkward staggering movements of your goat due to overgrown hooves. Sometimes, the goat may stumble and may probably sustain a fracture.
So, yes you have to trim your goat’s hooves from time to time.
At What Age Do You Start Trimming Goat Hooves?
Trimming of a goat’s hooves is best begun at 4 weeks of age. Waiting longer than 4 weeks makes the hoof overgrown. So, when a kid is born, check its hooves at 1 month. Subsequently, check the hooves fortnightly i.e. every 2 weeks. This way you get to check if its hooves are overgrown and clip them when necessary.
When Should You Trim Goat Hooves?
There is no hard-and-fast rule regarding when a goat’s hooves should be clipped. Goat hooves grow at different rates and this is largely dependent on such factors as: diet and rearing conditions. So, new goat keepers should try to check their goat’s hooves at least once in a week. This enables you to monitor the rate at which your goat’s hooves grow.
On average, it is best to trim your goat’s hooves every 6 weeks. If you can trim every 4 weeks, all the better. Like I said earlier, there is no hard-and-fast rule. The only important thing is to always prune your goat’s hooves whenever it is due.
In a nutshell, trimming goat hooves is no mean job. It requires a great deal of meticulousness, patience, and skill. For new goat owners and farmers, it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with the timelines for trimming. One good way to overcome this challenge to keep reminders. After trimming is done, it is wise to immediately set a reminder for the next hoof trimming. That way, you do not forget to trim your goat’s hooves and thus save yourself the cost of treating your goat as a result of a foot infection that is preventable.