Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Trimming Hooves

(Leta) is looking better.
My umph has gone up and left. I haven't even made the pie crust yet. I had good intentions then three tow headed boys showed up in my backyard just aching to help me unload wood last evening. I couldn't say no. I'd then have to do all the work myself. Besides wasn't it teaching them good manners to help the little old lady down the street. Me silly. Okay I'm not little or gray haired but I'm feeling mighty old right now after cleaning the chicken coop, the goat shed, and unloading lots of wood yesterday. So I enthusiastically agreed to allow them to help. After all doesn't it take a neighborhood to bring up a child and how dare me to be derelict in my duty to teach them the rewards of hard work.

The oldest was 13 and the youngest 9. The kids asked me how old I was and then the oldest informed me that I was mighty spry for my age. Fifty must seem ancient to them. I guess I am a grandma. Their dad said I couldn't pay them so as a reward they received a large piece of oatmeal cake.

Despite how achy I'm feeling, I'd best speed things up and head back out again to finish unloading wood before the sun sets. This was just suppose to be a brief old ladies break. The weather man is still calling for snow tomorrow and then I can putter in the kitchen finish painting it and do some baking. So I'd best run but I'll be back soon. You can count on it. I haven't the energy to stay outside much longer. Then I'll finish this post for sure.

Since the sun was shining so warmly today, I had no excuse to put off once more trimming Chicory's feet. She is a purebred Nubian that was culled from a prestigious show herd due to the fact that her hind pasterns tip out mildly. It isn't a fault in the breeding line so we brought her home. She does require frequent hoof trimmings to keep those pasterns up close to where they belong.

As you can see I've been a bit neglectful. I should have scooped out the dirt that was impacted in the hoof and you could have gotten a better idea how long her feet are. Then again do I really want you to know just how bad an owner I've been. Not really. I do want you to know at what lengths I had to contort over backwards to hold her hoof and move the camera far enough away to get a good shot and the right angle. I know there is zoom on the camera lens but who's going to twist it? My hands are already busy one holding the camera and the other her hoof? Kirk doesn't trim hooves. That's okay, I need him more for other tasks I can't do alone or at all.But what I want you to see was the angle that the hoof is sitting at. Note the coronary band. That's where the hairline stops and the hoof begins. That's right you have to imagine where that is in the picture because the hair length is draping over it. I should have trimmed the hair so you could see better. I'll do that next time. But I think you can see how the line slopes toward her heels. That is because goat's hooves grow much quicker at the toe than they do at the heel.
That leads many goat owners to trim hooves at the incorrect angle such as the one in the sketch above. If a goat's feet are left at this slope it will stretch the ligaments and eventually weaken the pasterns.

Try wearing shoes with the high heel under the ball of your foot instead of under your heel and you'll get an idea of what goat's have to contend with when their feet have grown too long. This sketch shows how the goats feet should be trimmed. The hoof should form a nice rectangle with the hoof wall horizontal to the coronary band.
Chicory's right foot is trimmed but you can see her left is not. Look closely and you'll see that on the right hoof the right section sits back from the left. I did not trim the toe too long. The heel sits forward on the left section and so the toe does also. That is why it is so important to pay close attention to each hoof for the individual differences.
I know that look. She's getting tired of me stopping every few minutes to take pictures and wishes I'd just hurry.
You can see I'm almost done trimming her one hoof. The best way to teach a new goat hoof trimming manners is to hold the hoof up at a comfortable angle close to their body and the second the goat quits struggling, let go of their hoof. Let them stand there a half a minute then pick it up again. If they struggle hold it. If the goat gets the hoof away from you then they've learned that struggling has rewards. Soon you'll be able to hold the hoof a little longer and a little longer but don't take advantage and just keep it. Trim for a brief minute and let them have their foot again. After all it is theirs. You need to study the hoof frequently anyway to make sure you have the correct angle.

Before beginning to trim make sure the goat is standing on a fairly level surface and that they are standing square when you're eyeing the angles.

On Chicory's hooves I have to leave the heels just a bit long to keep the walls parallel with her coronary band.

Also her back pasterns tip out just a bit so I try and trim the inside half of the hoof just a hair shorter than the outside which is tough to do since her hooves tip under on the outside. That's why I should have trimmed her hooves sooner to keep those hooves from tipping anymore than they already are.

Another really important reason to keep up on hoof trimming. The blood vessels will extend downward into the over grown area. You then can't trim as far back as necessary to give the goat a level hoof or you will cause bleeding, lameness, and possible infection as the goat will go back to walking on a dirty surface.

Hooves like this must be trimmed back a little at a time to the pink look but not beyond. The blood vessels will recede with frequent trimmings. But if the goat is left too long without being trimmed the hoof can become permanently warped and no amount of trimming will completely correct the damage.

Just like in any other animal a more correct conformation usually means a longer more productive life so it is imperative to keep those feet trimmed and the pasterns up where they belong.
If I was heading for a goat show I would use a plane to round the toes and make everything a little prettier but I haven't the tool though someday maybe I'll get one. Then again I can't stand to file my own nails, I'm not sure if I can a goat's. Okay, I know that's strange but what is is and until I can get over it the goats won't have planed feet.
Then when your done with the hooves and you have the hoof trimmers out, snip the dewclaws back if they are overly long.
Right now this old lady, because in reality I can't say little when I'm not, is going to put her pajamas on and put her feet up. Good night to you all.

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