January 27, 2016

Trimming a goat or sheeps’ feet


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Unless your goats or sheep live in a very rocky area you will need to trim their feet at least once per year. Just like humans, animals nails grow and get too long. Sometimes on livestock the nail will fold over and cause discomfort for the animal through lameness (limping) or the extra nail will break off. You can not rely on the nail breaking off as sometimes when this happens to much nail breaks off causing the animal further soreness. It is always best to keep an eye on your animals feet so that hooves do not start growing in the wrong direction which can happen if the hoof is too overgrown. It is best to trim your animals feet just after rain when their nails will be nice and soft and easy to cut.

If your sheep is lame and you inspect the hoof and all looks normal, check the oil gland which is located between the two hooves on each foot. Looking front on it appears just above the toes (hooves) in the centre. The gland lubricates between the toes though sometimes becomes clogged with dirt and blocked. It needs to be unblocked by squeezing gently. If it was blocked  a vaseline like substance will appear. Often this is a condition of rams which can easily be cured by you. Don’t forget to check all four feet.

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Overgrown hoof

You will need
A helper (this job is hard to do alone)
A mthod of catching your animals
Pair of hoof paring shears of straight secateurs (after trimming a number of sheep my hands get sore with the manufactured hoof parers hence I sometimes find the secateurs better on my hands)

1. Catch animal and ask your helper to hold.
2. Turn animal over so that it is sitting up on its back. If you are dealing with goats it is sometimes easier to do this task while the goat stays standing up, as goats arch their back when you turn them over and also often have horns which may poke your human helper. Instead just lift each foot up like you would a horse.
3. If necessary brush off any mud from the foot so that you can see the hoof clearly.
4. Using hoof parers cut away the outside hoof, anything that is hanging over so that everything is even with the sole of the foot. You may need to cut a little of the sole away if it is hanging over. Trim small amounts at a time and as soon as you see pink stop.

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5. Trim off the tip of the hoof, small amounts at once. Just like a dog the hoof will bleed if you cut too much off. If this happens the animal should be fine just apply some antiseptic or cold water to slow the bleeding.

6. Your animal should be happy with its new pedicure and your dogs will love the hoof trimmings.

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2 thoughts on “Trimming a goat or sheeps’ feet

  1. Avril

    A friend told me about this blog, I’m all about environmental sustainability. Does the animal feel pain in this process? Drawing blood sounds a bit icky. Do you always do this yourself or is it easier to hire someone if you have a large group of cattle (I don’t know what you call a group of goats, I’m sure it’s not a flock though 😉

    I have friends who have recently purchased 4 goats and I think they’ve been hiring someone to deal with this.

    1. sky@fromsoil2sky.com Post author

      No it is not painful for the animal unless you do draw blood. Very similar to when you cut a dogs toenails and may sometimes cut too much too even the vet does this. It is something I would recommend you at least learn to do yourself an if you can afford it get someone else to do it. Hoof trimming cattle is very different and requires a professional. Often goats feet if white seem to grow very quickly. Thanks so much for your comment.


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