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Hoof Rot Sheers
If you have never trimmed a goat's hooves, it may seem scary, but really it is a very simple and necessary procedure. Keeping your goat's hooves neat and trimmed help keep the feet free from disorder and disease, and help keep your goat happy and comfortable. At my farm, we trim our goat's hooves every 4-6 weeks. We find that some goats need their hooves trimmed more often, depending on the individual goat. They generally grow faster if the doe is lactating or pregnant. The key is to check their hooves often, and make adjustments as necessary.
The hoof walls, which is the area around the outside of the hoof, grow faster than the goat can wear them down, and so they must be trimmed.
Put your goat in the stanchion and feed them some grain to keep them calm and occupied.
The first task is to clean the dirt and debris from the hoof with a hoof pick.
Next, using hoof rot shears (which is a horrible name for them, but that is actually what they are called) trim the hoof walls so that they are flush to the pads of the toes. You may also need to trim the tips of the toes if they are "elfy." Remember that less is more here, and take your time to make sure you do not take too much too quickly. With really tough hooves, you might need to "chip away" at the walls in small bites to get through them. We find that the older the goat is, the tougher their hooves will be.
Once the walls are flush with the soft part of the toes, take a look at the soft heel at the back of the hoof. This may also need trimmed in order to make the hoof level again. I generally leave the heel alone unless it is starting to fold over, like it is in the picture above. This part is always a little scary to me, but think of it as a cuticle or callus. As long as the flesh is still white when you trim, you are safe. If you start seeing pink flesh when you trim, STOP! Pink means you are getting close to blood. If you do draw blood, do not panic, and use some blood stop powder on the wound.
The final task in hoof trimming is to check the dewclaws. These may also need trimming, and are similar to trimming the heel. White is ok, and pink means STOP! During show season, we like to use a Dremel on the hooves and dewclaws. This is not necessary, but you may also use a fine rasp to put the final touches on the hoof, and fine tune the levelness of the hoof.