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  • Matthew Weeman

Small Ruminant Hoof Care and Other Essentials

Updated: Oct 3

Trimming hooves every 6 months at a minimum is recommended. Be sure to avoid cutting the hoof wall in a “vertical” direction. The hoof trimmer should be kept flush/horizontal and in line with the sole of the foot. Feet that overgrow quickly should be trimmed more frequently.

Poorly trimmed feet will predispose to lameness and foot rot.


A veterinarian does not need to trim the hooves of your goat, but we do believe if you're

unfamiliar with the process, a veterinarian should be the first to show you how to do it.


When you pay someone without a license to trim your goat's feet, it is imperative to

remember, they can't diagnose or treat disease, and they have no obligation to do the

procedure correctly. Farriers are probably qualified, but it is critical they don't trim the

goat foot like a horse. There is no desire for "breakover" in a goat/sheep and trimming

the toe back will break down the suspensory apparatus over time. We are treating more

and more animals who have been injured by inappropriate trimming techniques. The

damage can't always be reversed.


Most sheep/goats require no other vaccines aside from CDT vaccines annually. The first time they receive their CDT shot, it should be boostered 3-4 weeks later, then give one shot annually thereafter.


Rabies vaccination can be considered in small ruminants however, depending on the situation it will add cost. These animals can be infected with rabies when bitten by rabid animals, their risk of transmission to a human is low, but if this is a pet animal that you prefer to have protected, then rabies should be considered.


If banding/castrating buck kids, aside from waiting to allow their size to develop, pain medication and a tetanus vaccine is CRITICAL. See our article entitled Castration Guidelines for more information.


If tail docking sheep, it is important to place the band within a day or two of life to minimize discomfort and always give meloxicam pain medicine. It is recommended to leave a tail stub long enough to completely cover the anus/vulva. When docking tails really short (like most desire for show) there is an increased risk of spinal infection or rectal prolapse.

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