In a dairy herd, you’d naturally imagine that udders are of the utmost importance and attention. They are, but feet – hooves – are even more primary than that. If a goat can’t range to find feed and nutrition, she won’t prosper, nor provide us with abundant and quality milk. Which of course relates to cheese.
We pay attention to everyone’s feet. Hoof trimming occurs at milking, when we have a chance to focus on the herd and how they are faring. Each goat sees the farm chiropodist/podiatrist (aka us) about every three months on a constant schedule. We keep a list and record their appointments.
Every hoof, or foot, is different. It takes care and some strength to trim them, ensuring the goat suffers no pain, nor soreness afterwards, and she is monitored for any genetic or structural faults (and managed because of them, especially if she has a good udder).
Here’s a slideshow and explanation by Ann Marie of how we trim. Make sure you have both sharp secateurs and rasp. Ensure both you and the goat are comfortable and not under tension or stress.
Trimming Crema’s Feet:
“Crema’s feet – we cut them every 3 months, take the soft fleshy part out of the middle and from the nail around the edge. Always start at the back because you don’t want the goat to end up with high heels. Then start to go around the edge. I put the foot between my knees.
You can see the back feet are more shallow, but I always start by cutting away the excess nail. Make sure you don’t create rocking-boat feet; work your way from the back to the front. Her feet are young and well formed, easy to trim”
Trimming Billie’s Feet:
“Billie (Holliday) was in the cull group when she was a kid because of her feet. She gets trimmed regularly. She likes it when she gets her feet done, says thankyou. But the smell sometimes!
It’s quite a soft inner piece and a harder trim or nail that runs around the edge of it. We don’t cut too deep. What can happen is that you get little bits of stone caught in between the soft part of the foot and the nail and the soft portion will separate from the nail.
Some goats sort of get a high heel on their front and there’s nothing you can do about it. Basically they don’t wear their feet down at all. They rely on you to care for them.
She will be a little tender as we have taken so much off. We are torn because Billie is such a great milker. But she is not someone you would breed from. You can see the marks in here – you always think ‘oh, that’s a stone I’ll work my way down through here’, but she’s got something structurally wrong there. I try and cut her feet more often to get more of her foot onto the ground. That’s a pretty good trim.
Billie is eight, she doesn’t have young feet. Just like our toenails get as we age and the chiropodists get the foot trimming gear out. You get to know their feet. You get to know after eight years and trimming three or four times a year. We just work through the whole herd over the year. “