Hoof trimming, an art form and back breaker in the least. There are a few different types of methods that can be used to suit the animals needs as well as the handlers.
Firstly, the regularity in which farmers may perform this time expensive task depends on the topography, the breed of goat and simply how quickly the hooves grow. In rockier country compared to soft, wet ground, hooves may not need to be trimmed as frequently. Furthermore, some goat breeds have better hoof conformation than others and may not need to be trimmed as much. The following pictures may aid as a guideline for those whom are unsure as to when to trim their herds hooves.
How do I restrain the goat correctly?
Next thing to consider, is what infrastructure you need in order to effectively restrain the goat’s legs so that you won’t break your back or get a kick in the face. Some producers prefer a simple goat crush and can move around the animal picking up their hooves one at a time to trim. For small herds, running the herd through a race and choosing to restrain the goats manually may be preferred. Although, I must warn that there is a higher potential for horns to the legs and a sore back after this method. For tamer goats, simply having them in a head crush and accessing their hooves by picking them up individually can also work effectively. Another method, for those with a few dollars to spend and prefer to work with ease is a goat cradle. These are great for large herds and will halve the amount of time and labour input. It consists of a similar style to a sheep cradle, whereby, the goat is flipped on its backside, without any harm, the hooves are trimmed and the goat is swiftly tipped and released back to standing position.
What equipment will I need?
After deciding upon a method to restrain the goat/s to trim their hooves, one must consider the method in which trimming is performed. The most common method is simply using special hoof trimmers that you can buy from any local farm supply store. These are used exactly like a pair of secateurs or pliers to trim down the excess hoof. Another method, I would recommend for extremely overgrown or very tough hooves is using an angle grinder. Although this may sound painful, it is the very opposite and can be performed very quickly to trim large amounts of excess hoof growth. A filer may be used in conjunction with the above methods to get an extra smooth trim and can be used to get to parts of the nail that trimmers and an angle grinder cannot do. A combination of these methods can be used to get a very overgrown hoof back to perfect.
So whats the correct method?
There is no perfect way to trim hooves but following a simple rule of clipping the hooves only down to the sole of the hoof will ensure that no injury or bleeding will occur. Simply clip the sides of the hoof and the toe, one at a time, until it is inline with the sole (base of the hoof) and straight. The back, or the heel, also needs to be trimmed down until it is straight and level with the front of the hoof. The finished product should be a hoof that is level with the ground. If bleeding has occurred, the hoof has been trimmed too short. However, this is not a major problem and powder can be used to stop the bleeding.
Hoof trimming doesn’t have to be difficult and it is such a necessary husbandry task to do to keep your goats healthy. The vast majority of joint pain, lameness and structural problems goats incur are due to poor hoof conformation. Regular trimming will go a long way to keep your goats on their toes.
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