How to Trim Your Goat's Hooves

Goat with well trimmed hooves

"I Love My Manicure!" ~ Amber

Hoof trimming is essential for goat health.  Over grown hooves can cause many issues and weakens the legs.  A goat whose hooves are not trimmed regularly is at risk of developing problems like:

Properly trimming your goats takes practice, but is not difficult.  Study newborn goat hooves to see what a well trimmed hoof should look like.  I don't have any pictures of baby hooves as I haven't ever shaved a newborn and their hair hides the hoof unless you lift it to peek.  Below are a few pictures of well trimmed hooves:

A young doeling about 3 months old after her first hoof trim:

Goat with well trimmed hoovesHow to Trim Goat Hooves

Close-ups of front feet:

How to Trim Goat feetTrimming Goat HoovesHow to Trim Goat Hooves

Close-ups of rear feet:

Trim goat feetTrim goat hoovesHow to Trim Goat's feet

Here is HOW to clip your goat's feet correctly so that they can live long and healthy with strong feet.

First, gather all your tools.  You will need:

Goat Hoof trimmer tool Goat Hoof trimming tool Goat Hoof trimming gloves

Next, straddle the goat with it's head between your legs.  This is the easiest position to trim hooves in.  You can tie the goat up instead if they are very wild or too large to straddle, but the angle is more awkward to trim the hooves.

Once your goat is secure, pick up one of the front hooves.  Looking at the bottom of the hoof, you will see the hoof walls and the sole.  The heels are toward the back of the hoof and the toes are in the front.  See Diagram below:

Goat hooves

First, use the tip of your hoof trimmer to dig out dirt and other debris caught in the hoof.  Then you will want to trim off any excess hoof wall - it should be level with the sole of the hoof.  The wall will often fold over the sole, so you will need to get one part of the trimmer under that to trim it.

Trimming goat hooves

The rest of the hoof will vary from goat to goat as to what needs to be trimmed.  Some grow extra on the heel that will need to be trimmed off (high heels are usually easy to nip off), but most goats grow more on the toe.  The rule for getting the toe and heel in the correct proportions is to match the coronary band line with the bottom of the hoof.  The coronary band is where the hoof meets the skin at the top of the hoof.  The bottom of the hoof should be parallel to the coronary band.  Like this:

Trimming goat hooves - coronary band imageTrimmed goat hoovesHow to trim goat hooves

If you are dealing with a goat who has not had a proper trim for a long time, it may take several trimmings to get it to this point.  You need to stop when the cut area is pink - if you trim past that you will draw blood.  If you are seeing pink and the hoof is still not where you want it, wait a week or two and repeat the trimming.

After trimming the hoof to as close to right as you can, you will probably have some areas that are not quite level or smooth.  This is when you use the hoof plane to smooth everything out.  You can often level out the sole more with the plane than with the hoof trimmer.  It is hard to cut sole with the trimmer.  The plane will let you trim in smaller increments and reduce the risk of cutting the quick.

Here is an example of a typical set of hooves that needed trimming (a bit overgrown and should have been trimmed a bit earlier) and how they looked after trimming:

Rear Hooves:

Before  After 

Front Hooves 

Note how the pasterns improved just with trimming the hooves.  You can see the stress taken off them immediately. 

It's that simple!  Keep in mind that a good mineral balance and healthy diet are important to healthy feet and legs, so be sure your goat has access to a quality mineral and good diet. 


If you do cut the hoof to the quick, pressure on the hoof helps to stop bleeding.  There is a 'blood stop' powder that you can buy, but the best thing I have found is either powdered Cayenne or Yarrow (fresh or dry).  Apply the herb topically and the blood will stop flowing quickly.  You don't NEED to use any of these unless the hoof is bleeding a LOT.  A small nick will stop bleeding quickly when the goat stands and puts pressure on it.

Don't be afraid to come back later if you need too.  You can work on the hooves a little at a time - especially if the hooves are really overgrown.

During very wet weather, goats are more prone to hoof rot and other hoof issues.  Try to keep their bedding dry and provide a dry spot for them to stand so their hooves are not always wet.  I find my goats need their hooves trimmed more often during the wet spring months than in other times of the year. 

Happy goats with well trimmed hooves (Note how well trimmed hooves helps the goat stand more correctly on their legs):


Hoegger's Goat Supply (Hoof Trimmers and Hoof Plane)

Caprine Supply (Hoof Trimmers and Hoof Plane)