We arrived at about 9:30am ready to go. She had a couple of tools available to us - a pair of straight trimmers (ours are curved), some horse nippers, and a rasp. She also had a pretty cool portable headstall that her brother had welded for her. It attached to the gate and allowed us to work inside the pasture with the goats instead of wrestling each one into the barn.
When you trim a goat's hooves, you generally start at the back. There is a softer "pad" that creates the heal and it is nice to flatten that part out. When the hoof grows too long, it folds across the inner sole of the hoof and the goat walks on it. You have to trim that folded piece in order to see the actual hoof. So, you slip the trimmers under whatever flap of the outer hoof that has bent over the pad, and trim it off. Once you've done this, you can usually clean out the mud and gunk from inside the hoof walls and are able to see exactly where you want to trim.
The end goal is to create a flat clean surface that is parallel with the coronary band (where the hoof and the fur meet). From the side, the hoof will be a rhomboid shape when you are all finished. Slowly snip the side walls of the hoof down until you start to see a creamy pink color. This is the healthy new hoof. If you alternate back and forth between the outer wall and the inner wall, snipping toward the tip (away from the heel), you will end up with a nice clean tip as well. Be careful not to cut too deep, as the hoof will bleed.
|Trimming a hoof, before and after.|
So, J and I needed to do this on 16 goats. Some were easy to catch, some were not. We had a few who would always walk back to the headstall with us, regardless of whether or not they had been caught (they liked the scratches while we trimmed). We had a couple who threw tamtrums - kicking their feet or pushing forward and back in the headstall. We even had one throw himself on the ground...looked like a 300 pound toddler with horns.
Many of their hooves were really bad. We did our best to trim back as far as possible, but a few of them had been allowed to curve so much that we'll have to come back and continue to correct slowly. We only needed the nippers on a couple of the boers...their hooves were so long and hard the trimmers wouldn't cut through the hoof wall.
|Asha - our new Alpine goat.|