Goat hoof care is a task you sign up for when you bring home cute baby goats. Goat hoof care begins early in life and is a regular part of a maintaining a healthy herd. You have some time before the kids are big enough to need an actual hoof trim, but getting them used to having the hoof touched and examined early, will make it easier when necessary.
Why is Goat Hoof Care Needed
The goat hoof is a cloven hoof like in cattle and other ruminants. The split hoof provides a space between the two halves where moisture, dirt, and manure can be trapped. A moist, warm environment is an ideal spot for bacterial and fungal growth. Add to this, overgrown hoof on the outer edges, folding under the hoof, and you have the perfect beginning of a hoof problem.
What is Needed for a Hoof Trim
A milking stand or some sort of goat restraint will make the hoof care easier. Using a stand brings the goat up off the ground and shortens the distance you need to bend over to trim the goat hoof. A good quality pair of hoof trimmers will make the task much easier, too. There are many hoof trimmers on the market. I prefer this pair.
Secure the goat and ask another person to assist if you have a touchy goat. In my experience, all goats are a bit insecure about the hoof trimming. My most docile goats are the worst ones to trim! The female goats seem to particularly hate the back hooves being trimmed.
Once the goat is secured, you can start to examine the first goat hoof. Firmly, but gently grasp the first front leg, running your hand down the leg to the hoof. Bend the leg at the knee so you can take a good look at the bottom of the goat hoof. If the hoof has an overgrowth, it will look like a flap under the hoof. Carefully pry this up and begin to trim it off.
Knowing the Shape of a Natural Goat Hoof is Important as You Begin to Trim
The normal goat hoof is a wedge shape. Do not trim any material from the center portion of the hoof. This is the live tissue area and should not be trimmed. Trim the excess hoof growth from the sides and pointed toe, until the wedge shape is returned. When a goat has to walk around on overgrown hooves, he will begin to put pressure on the legs and wrong parts of the hoof. Eventually, the overgrown hoof will lead to lameness.
Inspect between the hoof sections. Also, take a look at the area where the leg meets the hoof for any wounds. Treat any open sores with antibacterial spray or salve. If you should happen to trim the hoof too far and a little blood appears don’t panic. Have some cornstarch in your farm first aid box. Apply the cornstarch to the open nick. The cornstarch will act like styptic powder to stop the blood flow.
Goat Hoof Rot, Foot Scald, and Other Hoof Issues
How do you recognize a case of goat hoof rot? Your nose might be the detective in this case. There is a distinct, unpleasant odor to the hoof when hoof rot is present. This is a painful condition for the goat. The animal may hold one foot up off the ground or limp. Sometimes the goat will stay down on the front knees to avoid putting pressure on the hoof. Foot Scald is the precursor to hoof rot.
In goats, hoof rot is usually bacterial first, then leading to a fungal growth too. Often the culprit is fusobacterium necrophorum, in conjunction with Dichelobactor-nodosus. Warm, wet conditions play a part in the occurrence of hoof rot. Once present in a herd, it is hard to stay ahead of the ailment.
Treatment for hoof rot usually calls for soaking in a copper sulfate or zinc sulfate solution. Over the counter products such as Hoof and Heel might be enough for early cases of hoof rot. When treating for hoof rot, first trim the hoof, then treat for the hoof rot. Learn more about foot scald and foot rot at Perdue University.
Extreme cases of goat hoof rot can lead to splitting of the outer hoof from the inner hoof. This gives bacteria a great place to hide, making it even more difficult to eradicate.
Preventing Cases of Foot Scald, Hoof Rot, and Other Goat Hoof Diseases
Good management is key to avoiding any goat hoof problems. Keeping pastures from flooding, keeping stalls dry and bedding fresh are some things that will help. Regular hoof inspections and trimming are necessary to proper foot health. Treat any problems promptly. Since hoof rot is contagious, any new herd members should be watched closely during quarantine for any signs or symptoms of hoof rot.
Are you interested in raising miniature livestock? Check out Raising Miniature Goats, Cows, Chickens, and Sheep. No promises miniature goat hooves are any easier to trim, though.