How to trim goat hooves
When we first brought home our caprine herd fourteen months ago, trimming hooves
sounded like a difficult hurdle I might not be able to surpass. Books
make the procedure seem so complicated...but trimming my own fingernails
would probably sound just as scary if I read a description having never
seen the art done.
The hardest part turned
out to be training our herd to be willing to separate from each other
and then eat happily in the stanchion while I played with their legs.
With that infrastructure in place, hoof trimming became simple,
especially if I chose a damp day when their nails were soft.
Artemesia especially is a breeze because she barely eats any
concentrates, so her hooves grow pretty slowly. Plus, she came to me at
four months of age with perfect feet, so my monthly trimming sessions
ever since have consisted of just keeping them the way they were. If I
hadn't let our first freshener put her foot down in some manure between
trimming and taking the photo to the right, in fact, you'd think her
hooves were pretty pristine.
Abigail is a bit more
complicated because her feet were never perfect. As a milker, she gets
more concentrates, and that means her hooves grow faster and manure
tends to get packed up inside the excess growth. So I spend a couple of
extra seconds excavating any gunk, and I also tend to have to trim a bit
of growth off the soft pad at the heel (which seldom needs cutting on
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Slightly more worrisome,
Abigail's hooves tend to get jaggedy, almost like a person who bites her
fingernails. There doesn't seem to be much I can do about this other
than trim the long parts and let the jaggedy parts grow back. Still, I
suspect these imperfect feet may be why Abigail won't step in even the
slightest hint of water while Artemesia doesn't seem to mind foot
All told, it probably
took me longer to write this post than to trim both of our girls' feet.
Hoof care is a fun activity for a snowy day, when I don't want to spend
too much time outside but do want to enjoy my daily dose of caprine
charm. And since the girls get extra alfalfa pellets at trimming time,
they also look forward to this part of their month.