I decided to bite the bullet and give some attention to the goats’ hooves. One hundred twenty toes and a blister later, and I think I somewhat have the hang of it.
I had been putting it off for awhile now because I’ve never trimmed goat feet before. I have had the pleasure of trimming cow feet many, many times . In fact, when I worked on my brother-in-law’s dairy, he and I would sometimes stay up through the night solving the world’s problems while trimming cow feet to give our hands something to do. Or was it the other way round? There were three hundred fifty milk cows on that dairy, so the routine trimming took a bit of time.
However, for cows we used a grinder wheel, for goats folks use scissors or snips. I have a pair of metal snips that are not flat. This worked against me somewhat, but I developed a method to work with them. Due to the slight twist and the fattiness of the snips, it was difficult to trim the inside of the hoof, but with some patience I was able to do an okay job.
I’m pretty sure these goats had not had their hooves trimmed before. Thankfully, they are all fairly young stock, meaning they did not have years worth of growth to deal with. Imagine if you had never trimmed your toenails from your birth until your teens. I don’t know if it would be similar, but that’s what I was dealing with on the goats.
Out of fifteen goats, I only made one goat on one toe actually bleed. There were two or three others that were beginning to show pink, though. When hooves aren’t trimmed regularly, the goat will wear down the heel while the front of the toe grows overly long, eventually curling in. As the toenail grows, the section where the blood is travels further and further out along with the nail.
You can’t correct this with a single trimming. Sometimes it takes a number of trimmings to get the hoof level. With each trimming, the blood recedes back into the hoof where it belongs. But if trimming is neglected long enough, the hoof can change shape so badly that it really can never be corrected. You just have to work with what you’ve got then.
Agnes was the only one who had nails that were deeply twisted. I trimmed her down as far as I could, but the front toes are particularly misshapen. We’ll see what a few more trimmings will do. Curled toenails trap manure and harmful bacteria, an unhealthy state for the animal (or human, I suppose). Clean, trimmed feet help maintain the health of your goat (or child, I suppose).
I don’t have a head catch made yet, so I was working with the goat tied to a post. That meant a bit of dancing took place that would have been pleasant to avoid. I am not a great dancer in the best of times. Add to that being bent over with a smelly hoof in one hand, and sharp pointy objects in the other, and I was slightly dangerous. More than once I was glad to be wearing leather gloves, as a well-timed kick sent the snips onto my finger instead of the hoof.
All in all, it was a fun thing to learn. My neck and shoulders are a bit sore, but I’m not much worse for the wear. And I’m happy knowing my goats are in better shape. While I was dealing with them all, I went ahead and wormed the herd. They should be about as healthy as they’ve been since they were newborn, I think.
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