Tuesday, June 23, 2009 2:31 PM

Manicure tips for goats

A few weeks ago, our neighbor Miss P. mentioned to us that her goats' (or "goaties", as they're known in the trade) hooves needed trimming. We'd noticed that they were starting to exhibit a "tippy-toes" kind of gait. Now we knew why! Apparently, they hadn't been trimmed in a few years. J. and I said we were up for it, even though we'd never done such a chore. I have a friend, J.M., who knows a lot about livestock and has owned goats (she still has pygmies), pigs and horses. She agreed to come help, as well. We figured that once we learned the ropes, J. and I could probably keep up with this grooming task. As it turned out, we changed our minds on that point pretty quickly!

The day of the blessed event found J.M., J. and myself trotting over to Miss P.'s where she and her sister-in-law, K., were waiting. Chaos ensued as I proceeded to catch the goats, wrestle them down and trim their hooves all by myself as everyone else just stood around and watched. Ha! I'm kidding. Actually, I did very little. I wound up in charge of the big goatie shed door, slamming it shut to trap just one of the poor beasties at a time as they ran from the small back door to the front, trying to escape their fate. J.M. brought trimming tools and gave direction as Miss P. and K. held the scaredy-goat while J., who has the strongest hands, did all the trimming. Miss P. has four goats, three females and one male. They are good-sized goats, particularly the male. They are very nice, friendly animals who knew all of us, except for J.M. This was a new experience for them, however, and they were nervous. As a matter of fact, the male was so afraid that he almost fainted! Poor baby.

As J. started trimming the excess hoof material, J.M. and Miss P. checked to make sure that there was no softness or bad odor. There was none. If there had been, it would probably been a case of footrot, whereby too much wetness causes the horn to soften, making it easier for infectious agents to cause problems. Trimming infected and soft tissue, treatment baths and keeping the goats on dry flooring cures this problem. Scald, or interdigital dermatitis, is another common problem associated with wet conditions. Goats with this problem often come up lame, sometimes walking on their knees (poor dearies!). Treatment here also involves keeping the feet dry and antibiotic footbaths. Miss P. keeps their shed floor nice and dry, so no foot problems for "our" goaties!

The entire process took about two hours to do four goats. It took a little while for the poor pets to calm down, but they were their same, friendly selves later in the day. As for a command performance, we all decided that every 6-8 weeks (as most husbandry books recommend) would be just a little to often for our tastes! Now we know that we need a minimum of three people, at least 2 free hours and lots of beer. We think we will probably wait until next spring to revisit the manicure part (although, for sure, not the beer part). We're pretty sure that all the goaties agree with this plan, too. OK! Time for a beer.

Update: Here's our little pal Chickie, hangin' out in the goatie pen with his adoptive mom. She's very protective and has really taken him under her wing, so to speak. She wasn't very happy about my taking this picture, and led him inside right after I snapped this. He was riding one of the goats a few minutes before, but I missed that pic. Oh, well. Maybe next time.
Chat later!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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