If you are interested in keeping sheep or goats then you will need to, at some point, trim their hooves, if you wish to know a little about hoof trimming I have wrote a small section about it at the bottom of the page, I am no expert, but it is a very simple and most necessary job.
Today has been a very wet day. Right from when we woke up this morning to the sound of the pitter-patter of rain drops on the window, until this very moment as I sit here sipping a hot mug of tea whilst writing on the veranda with the dog cuddled up to me, listening to every drop hitting the tiles above us. It is on days like these that we like to try and find indoor jobs that are a little more comfortable and a little bit drier. Now that we have the pole barn all set up and filled with lovely dry, sweet smelling barley straw, I could not think of a better place to spend an hour or so than inside there, so hoof trimming became our job for the morning.
Lloyd, Mariana and I fed the chickens, geese and ducks (the latter two were somewhat more happy about the puddles). Then we gathered up our shears and together we walked to the sheep barn, hoods up and heads down! When inside we shook the sodden coats off, I wiped my misted glasses free of droplets and grabbed ourselves some nice comfy straw-bales to sit down on.
It was rather apparent that the sheep were appreciative of their new housing and much prefer being inside on their straw beds as they did not seem overly keen on running out onto the damp grass. With no time like the present, Lloyd grabbed our first volunteer, Maisy, and we got to work.
First of all we sat Maisy on her bottom nestled inbetween Lloyds legs and gently took her first leg. Maisy is a dear little soul and did not put up too much of a struggle for her morning manicure. Using the blade I scraped the muck from the hoof and trimmed it up nicely. Once all four of Maisies hooves were nice and neat we let her run back to her friends, I cleaned my shears off and Lloyd caught our next wooly, willing participant, Molly. We continued like this until an hour or so had passed and all our fourteen pedicured patrons were all ready to take their leave out onto the pasture and enjoy the day ahead of them.
How to trim hooves
Sheep and goat hooves, grow quicker from the outer edges than they do from the heel pad, and they can end up curling over each other. Depending on the climate and what surfaces your livestock have, you may not need to trim their hooves very often, those that are housed on rainy, boggy ground will not get a lot of wear and may need trimming as often as every couple of months, but those that have hard surfaces to walk over such as rocks, cement or along roads will naturally be worn down much more and will need less trimming, perhaps only twice a year or so. A properly trimmed hoof should look flat, for an example of a perfect hoof examine that of a newly born lamb, because this is the desired look of a trimmed adult hoof.
The hoof edges will begin to curl and look pointed if left for too long. When hooves curl over themselves they can grow over and encase fecal matter and this can become a real problem, this is when footrot can set in. If left completely untreated it will eventually lead to lameness in the animal. When trimming it is generally best to work heel to tip and try to take off any curling of the hoof. You should also scrape between the two hooves carefully with a blunt object, not the blade as this can cut the skin between the hoof, again if this area is left to it's own devices it can be a common place for footrot to take hold.