We talk a lot about good animal husbandry and all the effort that goes into being a successful livestock manager. Whether you’re managing a flock of 60 sheep or a couple of backyard goats, it takes a lot of work to care for small ruminants.
Of all the tasks there are to do, one of the easiest ways you can maximize productivity and animal health is by trimming their feet! It can be time consuming and maybe a bit daunting if you’ve never done it, but it’s an essential part of owning sheep and goats and should be checked on a regular basis.
Why is it so important?
As a colleague of mine says, “No feet, no meat.” It’s simple: if your sheep or goats don’t have properly trimmed feet, you can expect a drop in weight and overall productivity. Overgrown hooves make walking very painful for animals, can lead to other ligament and joint issues and make competing for feed difficult. As a result, this may cause your animals to move around less and not eat as much. If you aren’t checking their feet regularly you may run into more problems down the road.
Those problems include foot rot, foot abscesses and foot scald—and more! These are just a few of the common hoof diseases that lurk around your small ruminants’ feet. They’re painful, stinky, some are very contagious and they’re all a pain to get rid of. The best treatment for hoof diseases is prevention through regular hoof trimming and checking feet. That’s not to say you’ll never find these issues if you trim regularly, but you will be able to catch them early and administer the proper treatment to prevent further outbreak or permanent damage.
If your sheep or goats don’t have properly trimmed feet, you can expect a drop in weight and overall productivity.
Many factors affect the rate of hoof growth and how often you trim your animal’s feet, which makes it important to know what is normal and abnormal for your flock.
The first step for success is to get out there and start observing your livestock’s feet!
The second step?
Join us March 6 at the UNH Cooperative Extension Rockingham County office from 6 to 8 p.m. for a hands-on opportunity to learn how to properly trim and care for small ruminant feet. Everyone is welcome, regardless of the size of your flock. Registration is $15.