Goat Hoof Care

For healthier, happier goats, create a plan to clean, trim, and maintain their hooves.


goats-running 
Photo by Adobe Stock/Milan

A goat’s hooves require proper care in order to keep the animal healthy and thriving. Left uncared for, lameness will occur via overgrown toes, hoof rot, hoof scald, and abscesses. With continued neglect, the pain becomes so great that the goat becomes incapable of walking on its feet, causing it to crawl along on its knees as it attempts to forage. Soon, starvation sets in as its feeble attempts at crawling become insufficient to sustain life. However, in most cases, these ailments are preventable through regular hoof trimmings, sound pasture management, and good nutrition.

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From top to bottom, the Angora goat’s hooves are severely overgrown. Sometimes overgrown feet, such as this rescue goat’s, take several sessions to correct. When left unmonitored, some hooves become infected and will require good trimmings and regular treatments to cure the infection. Overgrown hoof walls are both painful and debilitating to the goat, and they often wrap under the foot. Carefully lift the rolled wall, and snip slowly to bring the wall even with the sole and heel. Photos by Anne Schroeder; Clara del Risco; Marie McFail; Calli Damper; and Tori Nelson, respectively.



Types of Hoof Infection

Hoof rot and hoof scald are quite similar and are often confused with one another for good reason. Both are the result of bacterial infections in the hoof, and both cause debilitating pain and lameness. However, scald is caused by the bacterium Fusobacterium necrophorum, while rot is caused by a combination of F. necrophorum and Dichelobacter nodosus. These infections often occur simultaneously in two or more hooves, although it’s not uncommon for a single hoof to harbor these infections. Standing water and consistently moist or wet pastures and paddocks, such as those seen in a wet spring and fall, contribute to both types of bacterial growth with insufficient hoof care, further encouraging the development of these highly contagious infections.



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