The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Trimming goat hooves

Trimming a goat hoof

This week marks our one-month anniversary of having goats on the farm. Time to trim their hooves!

Growing goat hoof

Hoof trimming was on my list of things I was uncertain about, which is why I opted to splurge on a special hoof-trimming tool rather than just using a pocket knife. Of course, now that I've trimmed hooves, I can see how a pocket knife could work --- the part of the hoof you pare off is very easy to distinguish from the not-to-be-cut area, and it's also quite soft. But clippers made the operation very painless, and I'm glad we have them.

In the photos above, the picture on the left shows a hoof pre-trimming. Notice that the edges stick out further than the center? All you have to do is snip that bit off, a process which is simple if you do it frequently (but can get tricky if you wait too long).

Goat wrangling

Once I figured out what I was doing, front hooves were easy on both girls. Artemesia thought she was being petted the whole time, so even our doeling's hind hooves weren't bad, but Abigail didn't understand why something kept grabbing her feet and not letting them go. In the end, Mark and I had to work together to get Abigail's hind feet trimmed --- he corralled her and I clipped.

Goat pedicure

Now that I've trained both of our girls to walk easily on a leash and to do (mostly) as I say, it's time for the second round of training --- milking prep. Abigail is (hopefully) pregnant (more on that later), so Mark will be building a milking station shortly. Then I'll start giving Abigail her treats (more on those later too) while up on the milking station. That will give me an opportunity to get our doe used to being manhandled, and should also make trimming her hind hooves easier.

As a side note, I recently learned that you can tell the age of a goat from looking at her teeth. Abigail's previous owner wasn't sure how old she was, so I decided to take advantage of already being on her bad list by prying open our doe's jaw to take a peek. I had to look fast (so no photo), but the two big teeth in the middle of six smaller teeth proved that our doe is around 1.5 years old --- the kids she had this past spring were almost certainly her first. Hopefully she'll come through again in February or March, at which point we'll start enjoying homegrown milk in addition to cute goats.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Yay goats! I am no farmer, but I think goats are cool. :^)

What do they do about their hooves in the wild, with no humans to trim them?

Comment by irilyth Tue Nov 4 12:08:21 2014
irilyth --- In general, goats were supposed to live in rocky areas in the wild, so the hooves wore down naturally. One book said that if you put a big rock in their enclosure so your goats can play on it every day, you might not have to trim their hooves, and I guess in the city you could take them on walks on asphalt. But hoof trimming is pretty easy too.... :-)
Comment by anna Tue Nov 4 13:05:16 2014
I am really enjoying reading about your goat adventures. I am picking up my two does next week. Thanks for sharing!
Comment by Karla Wed Nov 5 06:13:03 2014

Wow not only chickens but goats too! Forget about the yearly vacations, trying to find someone dependable enough to watch over the property I find is almost impossible to find someone. I guess I should get a few chickens too being I have to stay home anyways.

I ripped out all of my grapes and went with Kiwi plants, so far so good.

Just wondering if you ever planted any Jujube trees, I see Edible Landscaping down your way sales them but only for zone 6, being I live in zone 5 not sure if they will grow here.

Comment by Zimmy Wed Nov 5 12:27:03 2014

Karla --- You're in for a treat! I'll be curious to hear what kind of does you've chosen.

Zimmy --- I've pondered Jujubes, but am always leery of planting fruits I've never tasted. One of our efriends grows them with great results in New Mexico, though.

Comment by anna Wed Nov 5 20:48:46 2014

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