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The trimming of hooves of goats is a simple task that can be easily learned. Many foot and leg problems in goats are either caused by a lack of trimming or improper trimming techniques.
Time between trimmings
The amount of time between trimmings depends on many factors, such as:
Goats raised in relative confinement and on small acreages may also require more frequent trimmings than goats raised in large pastures. Generally, foot trimming should be done on an as needed basis. A properly trimmed hoof should look like that of a newborn kid.
Tools for hoof trimming
It is always easier to trim feet after the goats have been outside in wet grass, as the moisture is taken in by the hoof walls, making them softer and easier to trim.
Restraining your goat
There are several ways of holding or restraining a goat in order to care for hooves. The best method is whatever works well for your particular situation.
Steps in trimming
The first step in trimming is to clean off the foot, so that it is free of dirt, stones, rot and manure.
Besides being easier to see and more pleasant to handle, a clean foot will not dull a knife's edge as fast as a dirty foot.
The next step is to remove any rim or excess growth from the walls of the foot. The wall may have grown and folded back under the foot. In this case some of the overlapped toe will have to be cut back so that the rim of the wall can be removed properly.
The trimming of the wall and toe should be done with the shears, while the heel and sole can best be cut with a hoof knife. When using a hoof knife, always cut away from the goat and yourself. The sole should be trimmed down in thin slices until the heel, sole and wall form a flat surface upon which the goat should stand at a correct angle of about 45o. Stop trimming as soon as the sole begins to appear a pinkish color. Any further trimming goes into the ''quick'' and the foot will begin to bleed. In that case, a disinfectant such as iodine should be used. Turpentine will harden the sole and may also be helpful. In many cases, the weight of the goat itself will put pressure on the cut and stop the bleeding.
If the goat's feet have been neglected for some time, and the toes are very long it is usually not practical to try to bring them back to normal in one trimming. It is generally better to trim the feet a little, then gradually bring them back to proper shape, size and angle with frequent trimmings.
A general rule to keep in mind about trimming goat's feet is that the hoof's hairline should be almost parallel to the ground and the more often trimming is done the less time and energy per trimming it takes, and the more well behaved the goats will be during the trimming. Also, there is a smaller chance of the goat developing foot problems such as hoof rot if the owner is working with the goat's feet regularly and frequently.