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ORIGIN: United States

Extension Goat Handbook

This material was contributed from collections at the National Agricultural Library. However, users should direct all inquires about the contents to authors or originating agencies.

DOCN 000000046
NO F-3
G. F. W. Haenlein R. Caccese; U. of Delaware, Newark
D. L. Ace; Pennsylvania State U., University Park, PA
Anatomy and Physiology

Feet of goats are pair-hoofed (ungulates) as in other members of the zoological order of artiodactyla. The fore-knee of goats is called the carpus joint, resembling the wrist of people. Below it follows the cannon or metacarpus bone (people's hand bones) while above are, in vertical alignment, the radius and ulna bones (lower arm), almost totally fused into one. This is the extent of the visible part of the foreleg of goats while the part resembling the upper arm of people above the elbow, the humerus bone, is not a free apendage in goats, similar to sheep, cattle or horses, for example. Yet, the humerus must be tightly attached to the ribcage so to provide the goat with maximum support. A loose attachment gives the appearance of ''wing shoulders'', i.e. a visible distance between elbow and body proper, resulting in weakness and fatigue on standing and thus shortened feed intake and reduced milk production.

1 The bones of the goat's hindleg (pelvic limb) are similar to those of the foreleg (thoracic limb) in a number of details. The invisible upper hindleg bone is called femur ending in the knee joint called ''stifle'' which is also not free from the body proper. Then follow the fused tibia and fibula bones into the hock joint or tarsus. Below it is the cannon or metatarsus bone. As in the case of the foreleg, it is very important for productive goats to have the hindlegs in overall perpendicularly vertical alignment with the legs parallel flat to the body and strongly attached. Evidence to this desirable condition is that the legs are not ''sickle hocked'', not walking ''under the belly'', the forelegs are not ''buckled'' in the knees, and the feet are not toeing in or out.

2 The feet of goats, as in sheep and cattle resemble fingers and toes of people. The third and fourth fingers or toes, called digits of goats, are fully developed, while the second and fifth are vestigial. The digits consists of three phalanx bones, in line each, starting from the cannon bones, metacarpus or metatarsus, respectively, and are externally marked by the fetlocks or dewclaws. The phalanges are placed ideally at a 45 angle to the cannon bones, for optimum support of the goat. This is known as ''correct pasterns''. They should not be ''post-legged'' which is too straight, nor ''bear-pawed'' which is a weak pastern.

3 The hoofs of goats are derived from the skin, along with hair, horns and claws. The horny material that covers the end of each digit is also referred to as the claw of goats as on other artiodactyls such as deer, sheep and cows. The claw is composed of three basic segments: wall, sole and periople.

4 The wall of the claw is the part that is visible when the foot stands flat on the ground. The inner area of the wall, the sole, is made up of closely spaced plates of horn (lamellae). The horny lamellae fit into the sensitive lamellae that are produced by the connective tissue (corium). Both the sensitive and the horny lamellae have secondary fibers (laminae) on their surfaces which interlock among themselves. It is in this area that the nutrition of the wall of the hoof take place.

5 The actual growth of the claw begins at the coronet border region, the uppermost area of the external foot, just at the hairline of the leg. The outer part of the coronet is covered by a brown layer of horn, the periople. The horn grows out from the coronet. The wall of the foot joins the sole by a type of horn that is both lighter and softer textured than the rest of the horn. This white line is known as the zona lamellata. The periople is fairly extensive in goats, covering not only around the top of the claw, but also the entire surface of the heel, blending in with the sole. There is no clearly visible breaking point between the periople and the sole of the foot.

6 Foot Care Foot care in goats is a fairly simple matter that one can readily learn, although a conscientious effort must be made in order to insure that the required work is done on a regular and consistent basis. Many foot and leg problems that goats develop are either directly or indirectly caused by a lack of or improper trimming techniques.

7 The amount of time between trimmings depends on several factors, such as the type of ground on which the goats walk, their age and level of activity. Generally, foot trimming should be done at least every three months, although once every 6 weeks may be considered ideal and should be the goal of the goat herd owner. All goats in the herd, including kids that are over two months of age should be trimmed regularly. To allow more than 3 months between trimmings is an invitation for the development of chronic leg problems, especially in the pastern area, because the toes are getting too long and the vertical alignment of the legs and the proper angularity of the feet are changed.

8 It is always easier to trim feet after the goats have been outside in the wet grass of a dew laden or rain soaked pasture, as the moisture is taken in by the hoof walls, making them softer and easier to trim. There are also commercial preparations that may be used to harden or soften the hoof if one feels that this is necessary.

9 The essential tools for the trimming job are relatively few, with the best items a set of hoof shears and hoof knives, both with a sharp edge; a rasp, some iodine, turpentine, copper sulfate, formalin and gloves.

10 There are several ways of holding or restraining a goat in order to care for her feet, the best method being whichever works well in a particular situation. One method is to place the goat on a milking stand, perhaps offering a little grain or hay for a cooperative attitude. One may best work from the side of the goat on which she used to be milked. Doing first the front, then the back feet reduces the goat's fright and resistance. The front feet can be done by drawing the leg straight out in front of the goat or by bending it at the knee so that the foot is brought back under the goat. The hind feet may also be extended straight back, away from the goat or picked up and lifted under the belly for trimming. One advantage of working off of a milkstand is that the trimmer does not have to bend over in order to get the job done. He may even sit down. In this way, the milkstand can be a real back saver, which indirectly helps the regularity of the hoof care and the health of the goats.

11 Another method is to merely tie or have someone hold the goat while the feet are being done from the ground, in the same fashion as a farrier works on a horse.

12 Another method involves placing the goat between one's legs in the same position used for shearing sheep; that is, the animal is in an upright sit ting position. This method has the advantage that if the trimmer must work alone without the aid of a milkstand, he still can restrain goats better than when they are tied somewhere but do not like to stand still.

13 The first step in trimming is to clean off the foot, so that it will be free of dirt, stones, rot and manure. Besides being easier to see and more pleasant to handle, a clean foot will not dull a knife's edge as fast as a dirty foot. The next step is to remove any rim or excess growth from the walls of the foot. The wall may have grown and folded back under the foot, in which case first some of the toe will have to be cut back so that the rim of the wall can be removed properly. The trimming of the wall and toe should be done with the shears, while the heel and sole can best be cut with a hoof knife. In using a hoof knife, care must be taken to cut in the direction away from the goat and the operator. The sole should be trimmed down in thin slices until the heel, sole and wall form a flat surface upon which the goat should stand at a correct angle of about 45. Caution must be exercised in cutting, to stop as soon as the sole begins to take on a pinkish color. Any further trimming goes into the ''quick'' and the foot will begin to bleed. In that case, a disinfectant such as iodine should be used. Turpentine will harden the sole and may also be helpful.

14 If the goat's feet have been neglected for some time, and the toes are very long it is usually not practical to try and bring them back to normal in one trimming. It is generally better to trim the feet then more often, gradually getting back to a proper shape, size and angle. A general rule to keep in mind about trimming goat's feet is that the hoof's hairline should be almost parallel to the ground and the more often trimming is done the less time and energy per trimming it takes, and the more well behaved the goats will be during the trimming. Also, there is a smaller chance of the goat developing foot problems such as hoof rot if the owner is working with the goat's feet regularly and frequently.

15 One of the most common problems with goat's feet is the development of foot rot. This disease is caused by the bacterium Fusiformis nodosus, which is brought into an area by way of contaminated feet, and is capable of surviving in an open field for about 2 weeks. Generally, this problem starts as an inflammation between the toes of the foot, later spreading under the horn. As it continues, it causes a separation between horn and skin, causing varying degrees of pain and lameness.

16 In order to correct this problem, the hoof must be trimmed back to the point of separation from the skin. The foot should then be treated with an antibiotic spray (chloramphenicol or tetracycline), or soaked in a 5-10 22568349762258770000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 kept off contaiminated fields or muddy yards for at least two weeks to avoid reinfection. A walk-through foot bath filled with lime or saturated copper sulfate solution aids well in maintaining sound, healthy feet of goats; provided the foot bath is kept free of contamination from manure, rain and run-off. Spreading superphosphate fertilizer around the wet spots of the barn yard, near the feed bunk, waterer and buildings also may help. Sharp crushed stones and cinders should never be used on the ground of goat yards since they injure too easily the soft parts of the goat's hoofs. In wet regions or areas with frequent rainfall it is best to provide goats with stone or concrete walks, pens with wooden slatted floors, and solid aprons around the feed rack, trough and waterer so that the goats can walk and stand as much as possible on dry ground, especially during feeding.

17 Some foot and leg problems can be ''cured'' by corrective foot trimming. If the hindlegs are postlegged or too straight, it may give the foot a better, less than 45 angle by cutting the toe not too short. Vice-versa, a sickle-hocked leg will benefit from frequently trimming the toes short to a greater than 45 angle. If the legs toe out trimming the total inner claw shorter and lower on each foot will help. If hooves have spread claws, then cutting the inner walls more than the outer walls on each claw, is good corrective hoof trimming, provided it is done frequently and in short intervals.

18 A conscientious effort in a good foot care program will keep goats better looking, more healthy, happy and more productive. Experience in the care of feet of horses, sheep or cattle should benefit the needs of goats since the principles in foot care of either species are closely the same.

ORIGIN;United States


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