Hoof Trimming

 Updated on 3/22/15, Originally posted on 3/20/11

Why do goat hooves need to be trimmed?

Goats that live in the wild usually wear down their hoofs naturally.  Pet goats on the other hand or dairy goats, are usually kept in yards or pens and the goats are not out climbing rocky mountains all day.  It is important to maintain the hooves of your goat so the leg and foot do not become deformed and/or painful.  Also regular hoof trimming will keep the bottom of the hoof open so infection/rotting will not be as likely to happen.

Photo of a hoof that needs to be trimmed.


Hooves need to be trimmed about every 1-2 months but it depends on the goat and what you are feeding them.  The more grain and alfalfa you feed the faster the hooves grow thus the more frequent the hooves will need trimming.  The hoof should not be competently curled over covering the sole, and if it is the hoof needed a trim sooner.  Trim the outside edge of the hoof so that it is level with the rest of the hoof.  We use lamb footrot shears made by Burgon & Ball for our smaller goats but you can use other brands.  Be sure to keep the hoof trimmer receipt just in case they do not work.  We went through two hoof trimmers until we found a third one that worked.  Bigger breeds of goats have tougher hooves and are harder to trim so you may need to buy a hoof nipper made for horses.  Smaller goats are much easier to trim.  Baby goats or kids have the softest hooves and you must be especially careful not to trim too much or they will bleed quite easily.

In this photo the top toe has already been trimmed and the bottom toe has not.

How to hold the goat

To begin place your goat in a milk stand with grain or have someone hold the goat for you.  Take the hoof firmly in your hand like in the photos above.  Often people will hold a goats leg up too high when trimming.  You should consider sitting or kneeling and always remember not to pull the goats leg in an unnatural position as you don’t what to injure the goat.

How to trim the hooves

We like to start at the tip of a toe on the outside of the hoof and work our way up towards the heel.  You can decide to trim the left or right toe of the hoof first, it does not matter.

Takes your time trimming the hoof and don’t rush too much.  Always take little bits off the hoof until you learn how far you can trim.  If the hoof starts to look darker or pink under where you just trimmed, you took off a bit much and almost caused the goat to bleed.  After you have removed some of the hoof, use the tips of your trimmers to clean out any debris inside the hoof.

After you have picked the hoof clean you can see a little better.  Continue trimming until it is even with the bottom of the hoof.  You must be careful not to trim off too much of the sides and tip of the toe or you will make the goat bleed.  Always have styptic powder by you when you trim the hooves in case you cut too far.  Kwik Stop or other styptic powders stop bleeding when applied to a hoof that is bleeding, the powder clots the blood and makes the bleeding stop.  You can buy Kwik Stop or some other brand of styptic powder for dog nails at a pet store and use it for your goat.

Remember to trim the inside of the toe too and also the other toe of the hoof.  When we have finished trimming both sides of both toes we like to trim a little off the tips of each toe.  This helps to keep small rocks and other debris out of the hoof as it starts to grow back out.  You may also need to trim off a little on the goats heel but do a little at a time so you don’t take off too much thus causing the goat to bleed.  When you are done trimming, your goal is to have the sides of the toes even with the bottom of the goats soles.   Repeat these steps until all the other three hoofs (or six other toes) are trimmed.  Also note that if your goat is heavy over grown, you may not be able to trim all the hoof off because the hoof may start to bleed.  For heavily over grown hooves, you will need to seek professional help and have them trim your goat’s hooves in multiply sessions in order to correct them.

Have a question?

Please leave a comment below.  You can also talk to your vet or a farrier (a farrier is a person who trims and shoes horses’ hooves)

13 Responses to Hoof Trimming

  1. admin says:

    Always checking with your vet is a good idea so they can actually take a look and see what the hooves look like. Sometimes a goat will have little pieces that chip off when they clime and play but the hoof should not be peeling off in large sections unless you are not trimming them. A vet check would be ideal to make sure there is no infection, disease, diet problem, vitamin or mineral deficiency.

  2. vishnu says:

    my goat front hooves stared peeling and is lifting off freely. This just happened in just couple of days its a boe5 going on 6 months old. the weather has been a little damp on morning times but sunny for the rest of the day. I cleaned it and the hooves don’t need trimming just the outer part has lift out. What should I do?

  3. admin says:

    Hi Babs,
    If the heels are overgrown, yes they will need to be trimmed but very carefully. You may consider hiring someone that has experiences so you can watch and see how to do it. The heels grow out too much when the walls get long and don’t get trimmed; the heels don’t get worn down enough. If you want to try trimming them yourself, lift up as much of the heel as possible before trimming so you can see better. Take off a little at a time, when it gets soft and black you trimmed off almost too much. You want to be careful not to trim too far or you will make them bleed. Have styptic powder on hand just in case.

  4. Babs says:

    We recently got a couple of female goats (pets only)…mixed breed…medium sized about 4-5 yrs old. There hooves have gotten long and we had no problem trimming them (walls, toes) but am wondering about the heels. They seem to be quite “long”, about 2/3rds of the foot length. What do we do with these? If it’s easier to answer via email, please do so and I can send some pictures. Thanks :) Babs

  5. admin says:

    Hi Caitie,
    Sometimes black hooves can be a little harder than white. Also younger goats have softer hooves and as they grow up the hooves become harder. As long as your goats hooves are clean, trimmed properly, and there is no swelling above the hoof you should be fine.

  6. Caitie says:

    I just recently bought two goats. I’ve just recently started trimming their hoofs .. but noticed my doe’s front hooves are harder almost black.. her back hooves appear “normal”. Should I be concerned with her feet?

  7. admin says:

    Hello Have goats.,
    Milk stands are the best for trimming hooves. Since you don’t have one, you are going to need 2-3 people to trim their hooves. 1-2 people to hold the goat and 1 to trim. If your goats are still small you can have 1 person hold them over their lap while sitting and the 2nd person can trim. If they are too much for you to do yourself you should have your vet or a ferrier show you how to hold them (It’s a bit hard to tell you how to hold them and much better if someone can show you.).

  8. Have goats. says:

    We have six month old pygmy goats, ready for their hoof trimming (first one we have done.) They are still slightly shy. How do we hold them, we do not have a milking stand.
    When do you stop feeding a male grain?

    Thank you so much for your sight, it has helped us with our goats and chickens.

  9. admin says:

    Hi Ronda Guerra,
    When a goat is first born the hooves are soft and look a little different from an 8 week old kid. We’re just not sure what is going on with your goat’s hooves without seeing a photo. The hooves should not be peel off but it is possible that some may come off a little as they start to walk more but they should harden a little within a few days from birth.

  10. Rhonda Guerra says:

    got a question? Our newborn baby goat has soft white feet that peel away. The hoof is way up high, What is that and will the hoof grow in?

  11. dallas says:

    wow thats alot of trimming

  12. admin says:

    Hello Michelle English,
    When a baby goat reaches about 8 weeks they are ready for their first trim.

  13. Michelle English says:

    I have a week old goat , when will I start to trim its hooves, thanking you.

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