Thursday, February 28, 2013

Goat Hooves: Tools for Trimming

A very vital part of routine care and maintenance of your goat herd is trimming hooves. It doesn't take a lot of skill or any expensive equipment, mostly just trial & error/experience.
All goats, not just Miss Maggie, use their hooves to stand,
 jump, run and play. Overgrown hooves are painful and can
 cause many problems for your goat!
Goat hooves grow just like human finger nails, rapidly and slightly irregularly. Goats need hooves trimmed regularly, approx. every 3 weeks, but it varies from goat to goat.
A badly overgrown hoof. Photo Courtesy of  this link.
Goats whose hooves grow out too long can have problems walking, contract hoof rot and even can go lame. Responsible farmers will make sure to always check on goat's hooves and trim accordingly.

Tools for the job:

These are listed in order of importance to the job. While you may not need everything on the list when you start out, you eventually will.
Similar styles can be purchased at: Tractor Supply Co, Valley Vet, or your local Feed & Livestock Supplier

1. Hoof Trimmers or Shears

Hoof trimmers can be purchased for between $7 - $15 online or in stores. They have sharp blades and are spring loaded to make clipping easier, but take take to keep away from young hands! The best trimmers lock in a closed position and have a wrist strap to keep them from flying out of your hands when a goat kicks out.

Herbert Huff has a great "how to" about building your own stand.

2. Goat Stand

Even the best behaved goats will only put up with so much. A goat stand reduces back pains for the farmer and stress on the animal. Some include feed buckets so you can snip away while the goat eats. They are made from both metal and wood in a variety of styles Metal stands are sturdier, and some are even collapsible to make it easier to move around. If working with large goats (or bucks), a sturdy metal stand is probably your best bet.

Pick can be purchased at Fuller Supply Co

3. Hoof Pick

A hoof pick helps clean out dirt and poop from the center part of hooves. It is just a metal tip that scrapes against the hooves. I really like the combo pick/brush on the right because the smaller your kit is, the easier it is to find things. We use the same one designed for horses, but on a busy day, you can use the tips of your shears to knock off big chunks of mud.

4. Brush 

A simple (and inexpensive) brush that you can use with water to scrape mud and other debris from the outside of hooves. These will need to be thrown away as they get broken bristles and too dirty to clean. A rag will do a similar job, but not as well. 

Found online at: Premier 1 Supplies but many other styles are available, even some similar a cheese grater. 

5. File or Hoof Rasp/Plane

This is a file that is used fro the finishing touches. While not necessary for routine trimming, it is recommended for use before showing to get hooves looking their best. The best files have both a fine and course side depending on the amount you need to take off.

So now  that you have your shopping list, check back on next Wednesday to see Part 2- How To: Trim Goat Hooves.

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