Goat Pedicures? Learn How to Trim Your Goat’s Hooves!

trim goat hooves

I’m pleased to have Shelly Lienemann of Windswept Plains Goat Dairy visiting today and showing us how she trims her goat’s hooves! Take it away Shelly!

Fat boys? Sandals? Wedges? Our summer foot wear can change with our mood, but goats require consistent, well-trimmed hooves to remain healthy, as well as fashionable.

Hoof trimming is a basic goat husbandry skill. Whether you own a commercial dairy or a couple of 4-H meat goats, proper and timely hoof trimming is vital. Hoof trimming makes the animals more comfortable, allows the pasterns and legs to grow normally, and prevents hoof rot.

I usually trim hooves every 6-12 weeks, but hoof growth varies greatly from goat to goat. Nubians seem to have slower growing hooves than Alpines or Saanens.

For showing, I trim about 3 days before a show. This allows a couple days for the hoof to regrow if I trim too close. Proper tools are necessary in order to safely and easily trim.

Tools for Trimming

Some people use a rasp to file down the heel. I simply trim carefully in that area. Many goat supply catalogs sell hoof trimmers. In my 12 years of dairying, I have worn out two pairs of sharpened pruning shears from the hardware store, but lost many more.

How to Trim a Goat’s Feet

Before

Before

These first pictures show the front hoof of a 3-year old Nubian, Peppermint, who has gone about 10 weeks since she was last trimmed.

Before

Before

Notice the overgrowth on the side that is curling under. That is the portion that needs to be cut off.

I first take the doe and put her in the stanchion. I then gently, but firmly, grab and flex back the foreleg. I hold the leg in place with my left hand.

Depending on the goat, it will probably protest to standing on three legs. It is usually best to not start trimming until the doe has thrown her little hissy fit.

After the tantrum is over, I clean all the dirt and grime off of the hoof, so I can clearly see the sole. If the heel is not flush with the rest of the hoof, it needs to either be cut or filed down so that it is.

Before

Before

This doe in particular just needs to have the sides cut. After the first hoof is done, continue to do the other three hooves. I usually start at the front left hoof then move to the left rear, the right rear, and finish on the right fore.

In this picture, you can see me trimming the overgrown side portion.

Trimming the sides

Trimming the sides

 

All trimmed up!

All trimmed up!

After

After

On older goats, the dew claws need to be trimmed a bit when the dew claw starts getting long and curling down. The below photo shows me trimming a dew claw on my two year old buck, KJ. Dew claws require less frequent trimming than hooves.

Trimming the dew claw

Trimming the dew claw

It is very important to have the goat properly restrained and to take small cuts. You know when you are getting close to the quick or blood supply when you see the hoof color turning the slightest shade of pink. The longer the hoof, the easier it is to accidentally cut the quick.

blitzbefore1

Before-

This yearling alpine doe’s hooves grow very quickly. She is less than 10 weeks out of her last trim, but her rear pasterns are already showing the strain. You can easily see the overgrowth in the picture.

Applying Bloodstop powder

Applying Bloodstop powder

I accidentally snipped a little too close on this doe. This picture shows me putting on a healthy dusting of Blood Stop powder. Hoof cuts, along with udder scratches, look way worse than they actually are.

Of all the goats I have ever cut too deep, none of the have ever developed on infection or limped for more than an hour or two. If necessary or if worried, take the goat to a veterinarian. (But now your wallet will be bleeding.) You can see the difference in the stance after she is trimmed in this picture.

blitzafter

After!

Proper hoof care is a necessity for a healthy and productive goat. At first, the task might seem daunting, but in actuality, with a little practice, it becomes easy and is quickly done. It’s much easier than shopping the latest styles for ourselves. ;)

Shelly Lienemann is the owner of Windswept Plains Goat Dairy. You can follow her adventures on Facebook.


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Jill Winger

Owner/Blogger at The Prairie Homestead
Hey! I'm Jill. I'm all about cooking from scratch, getting dirt under my fingernails, hoarding mason jars, and trying not to kill stuff in my garden. I firmly believe that anyone can be a homesteader. Stick around, and I'll show ya the ropes!

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Comments

  1. Great post! I plan on getting a few goats this fall and have wondered about trimming their hooves. I know too many goat owners that do not keep up on their hooves and it bothers me so much. I love to see informational posts on how to be responsible goat owners (or owners of any animal for that matter).

  2. Susan Smith says:

    Great tutorial. We’ve always kept our goats trimmed and like Kris stated above, too many people don’t trim. Thank you.

  3. I do love your site! And some hoof trimming work is better than none. But I’d love to see an actual side view of the done hoof – because from what I’m seeing – your hoof care is functional but not exact.
    I’ve had goats for over 30 years now, but I trimmed similar to what I’m seeing in your photos when I started out too. Until a breeder with over 30 years experience showed me what I was doing wrong and how it was affecting my animals over time.

    • What exactly is incorrect with the hoof trimming?

      • I do realize that the photos are from at least 3 different goats – so I’m trying to balance what I’m seeing in the various pictures. I’m not really seeing the views I’d like to see in the completed feet so I’m maybe taking it out of context and I if I’ve done that I’m very sorry.
        You do a very nice job on a basic trim job and your goats have beautiful health to the soles of their feet.

    • Please explain what was wrong!

      • For years when I trimmed my goats I took off the folded over sides and evened up the toes; and flatted out the heel if it looked long. I trimmed dew claws back. My goats feet looked nice. But we went to a show with my son when he started 4-H and he asked why the judge said our goats had “Soft pasterns.” We went to talk to the most knowledgeable breeder in our barn. And this is what she told us.
        The “ideal” is to have the finished hoof look very similar to that of a “newborn” kid – very “boxy” in appearance, with what I’d call very little toe sticking out in front of the hairline when viewed from the side. When the doe has long toes it puts more stress on the pasterns and causes “soft pasterns” over time it can speed the breakdown of a does pasterns especially when she is carrying a heavy kid load.
        First, look at the side view “before” photo of the first doe – with her white hooves it is easy to see what looks like “tree rings” in the hoof wall. These rings should be nearly level from heel to toe (if they are not it will take time to correct).
        Secondly, I’m not sure if the buck’s feet were completed when you the dewclaws were being done. And I’m not sure on the doe with the fast growing twisted hooves. But I do see a spot on the first doe that will potentially cause issues later. Goats toes are meant to be held close together. If they are pushed apart it is called “splayed toes” this a fault if born with and can cause issues if they develop it. Manure build up between the halves of the foot are one possible contributing factor. But extra growth of sole/heel into the space between each half will also cause the toes to splay.

        • I started showing in ADGA shows, both regionally and Nationally, when I was 11 years old. Along with my own dairy, I was with 2 commercial Grade A cheese dairies. I have also participated in two judging conferences in California and Arizona. My goats have been linear appraised regularly. I have never had anyone mention my hoof trimming as improper.

          It is important if you see overgrowth in the length of the toe or on insides the of the heel to trim it off. If the hooves are kept up, does have proper nutrition, and have decent conformation that usually isn’t an issue. When I snipped the yearling doe at the bottom, I was snipping of some of the length to the toe

          Feet and legs are one of the highest point categories on the scorecard and tightness in the toes goes along with that. The Nubian doe in the first picture actually has satisfactory tightness especially when you see her walk out. However the 2 yr old alpine buck, could be tighter in the toes.

        • Agreed. Just trimming over growth is okay, but getting back to the “newborn” form is best for the goats over all health.
          With my Nubians I can’t go more then three weeks without trimming our they start turning and having problems.
          I don’t think the above reader is being rude, she is just sharing her knowledge she has learned so everyone can have the healthiest goats possible.
          I have heard all the same things she has said from other ADGA breeders.

  4. Kellylynn says:

    Well, I know Shelly personally, she is one of my besties. How we met was actually bc I wanted to learn about goats bc is like to own some one day. Shelly has taught me so much. I admit that I don’t have 30 years experience but I can verify her experience and knowledge on the subjects! I also want to add that I’m not sure the point of her article was for criticism or correction especially on a public forum. It might have been more tactful and certainly much more receptive to have privately messaged her. Just a thought. It is true everyone learns something every day and we certainly don’t always know the correct way to do something, however, she is a credible source with much experience and education to back up her article.

    Great job Shelly! I’m proud of you! It takes guts to write an article to have it be open to possible criticism and judgements!

    It’s awesome for all the feedback though, and definitely different ways to do things.

    • Wow! Well said! I thought the article was excellent. The photos are so helpful and your explanations are easy to follow. Thanks!

  5. Carson Pfaff says:

    Hey thanks for the tips the helped me a lot with my two Nubian does. Thanks

  6. Maryann Maltman says:

    Well done! I was trying to help someone over the phone with this and then I said, “wait a minute let me find a link and text it too you!” thank you very much!