HOW TO TRIM HOOVES – GOATS & SHEEP
The hooves of your market goat or lamb will need to be trimmed 1 or 2 times before the show. Usually your adviser or other experienced showman will be able to help you trim. What you are looking for is to have the hoof shaped like a slanted rectangular shape.
How do I know when it’s time to trim my goat’s feet?
When you pick up your goat or lambs feet, you’ll see the hoof growing over the edges of the foot like a flap. Here is a before and after picture. It’s important to keep the toes trimmed to prevent manure, dirt and debris from causing injury or infection.
Basic Goat or Lamb Hoof Anatomy
The anatomy of the goat or sheep toes is similar to our fingernails. Care must be taken when trimming. Become familiar with the structure of the toe and learn to identify what is able to be cut and what will make the toe bleed. The toe and wall will show the most overgrowth.
Note: The hoof can be called hoof, toe or claws. I’m a horseman and I tend to call them hooves or toes.
Steps to Trim Hooves
Secure your Goat or Lamb on the Grooming Stand – Be sure to have someone helping you to keep your goat or lamb on the stand safely. Sometimes they are jumpy and can cause their hind end to go off of the stand. If this happens, quick scoop your arms under their belly and lift them back onto the stand. Tell them to stand still (Yes…they can be talked to like a dog!).
Clean the Hoof – Using the hoof pick and brush, clean out the manure, dirt and debris from the folds of the hoof. The foot can be picked up by bending the leg.
Evaluate the Hoof Angle – The bottom level of the hoof should match the top level of the hoof where the hair meets the hoof. If your goat has long hair around their feet, move the hair with your hand to see the hoof line. This will be your angle to trim too.
Trim the Hoof Wall – Trim the folded over or long wall grown around the edges – A little at a time! Nip a little and keep going until the wall looks level with the sole of the foot.
Trim the Sole – Trim the sole a tiny bit at a time so that it is level with the sole and walls. This is a good use for the hoof knife (if you are experienced with using a hoof knife).
CAUTION: If you see pink flesh stop. Pink represents blood flow
Plane the Edges – Using the hand planer, scrape the bottom of the foot. The goal is the level off the edges and create a nice level look.
Other Tools to Use –
People with horses may have these tools in the barn.
Hoof Nippers – These are used more on breeding stock and full grown goats & sheep. They need to be sharp to work. The cheap nippers are too thick.
Hoof Knife with Heavy Gloves – Hoof knives are sharp and should only be used by an experienced person.
BASIC TOOLS NEEDED FOR TRIMMING
Grooming stand – to secure your animal and to make it easier to work on the feet.
Hoof Pick with Brush – handy for cleaning the foot prior to clipping.
Hoof Trimming Clippers – The red handled clippers are the best and will run about $30.
Hoof Planer – A hand planer from your dad’s workshop will work!