The time is coming again to trim the hooves of our dear little goats. This task needs to be performed every four to six weeks if their hooves are to remain healthy and free from foot scald (precursor to foot rot). As I prepare to trim the goat hooves again, I find myself thinking back to our first hoof-trimming experience.
One sticky summer afternoon, I set off for the goat paddock with a sharp pair of secateurs, calling Kevin to follow. My plan was that Kevin should pet and cuddle a goat. This would allow me to lift up its hooves for trimming in the manner suggested by goat-care experts. This sounds fine in theory, but the goats wouldn’t keep still for us.
Kevin had a better plan. “I’ll grab its back legs, and lift them up so you can trim the hooves,” he suggested. I thought this sounded great, but the goats didn’t like it. They let out deafening bleats, and kicked so much that I didn’t dare try to trim the hooves at all. Kevin was running for cover. What could we do?
Later in the afternoon — at about the time when the goats usually settle down to chew their cud — I went back to the goat paddock. Daphne and Lulu rushed over to the gate. Soon enough, they started cud-chewing, and milling around me wanting love and cuddles. I hoped they would sit down with me in the cool shade of a big tree, so that I could execute my cunning pedicure plan. . . but no. Daphne and Lulu wanted to chew their cud in the nice toasty-warm goat house. Not to be deterred, I crouched down, and duck-walked after them into the goat house. It was stinking hot in there. Also, the “nice soft hay” I’d spread in there a few days before turned out to be a rather scratchy place to rest, if you ask me. I guess you have to be a goat to pick a spot like that for an afternoon siesta. We all sat down to chew our cud.
Once the goats were lying down and very much relaxed into dopey cud-chewing mode, it was easy to crawl around next to them and trim their little hooves. Actually, this exercise took quite a while, and I ended up covered in hay, and smelling like a goat. Still, it was a friendly experience for all — especially compared to our previous attempts.
I intend to use this goat hoof-trimming method in the future, and highly recommend it to other goat keepers if:
a) You are not in a big hurry with a herd of 50 goats to tend
b) You are on very friendly terms with your goats, such that they think you are another goat and will let you join them to chew cud and take a siesta
Later in the evening, when we went to put the goats away for the night, I gave them a foot bath of warm water with some tea-tree oil in it. (Kevin says our goats are very spoilt!) This preparation is supposed to help prevent foot rot and similar problems. I’ve also heard that you can use a foot bath of stock iodine, or else make a paste out of petroleum jelly and copper sulphate. The paste is pushed up into the crack in the hoof. The paste preparation is especially recommended for damp conditions.
This month, I plan to use the siesta pedicure method of hoof-trimming again. I’m intending to exercise a bit more patience this time, though: I’ll wait until they lie down in a nice (human-friendly) spot outside the goat house, thereby avoiding unnecessary heat and scratchiness.
Incidentally, I shouldn’t really have said that I smelt like a goat after my stint in the goat house. I more likely smelled like an over-heated human — which is much worse than smelling like a goat. Our goats are young does, and are not vile-smelling like billy goats in the mating season. Actually, they smell clean and rather nice.