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Trimming Goat Hooves with a Block Plane

Updated: Sep 25, 2019

This is our ninth year raising Nigerian dwarf dairy goats and we trim all their hooves ourselves. We've done a decent job, but as we get more involved with linear appraisal and goat shows, and really watch our herd over time, we've realized we still have some room to improve on our hoof care and maintenance. Specifically, we struggle with keeping the two claws of each hoof trimmed the same length and we'd love to be able to get the hoof more level. Each of these mistakes can compound on each other, and can result in hooves getting worse, rolling, weakening their legs and feet, etc. We adore our goats, and want them to be able to be comfortable and perform to the best of their genetic potential so I began the hunt for something that would help us meet that goal.

Let's try a block plane!

I purchased a 7" adjustable block plane. It is heavy duty and wide enough that the entire hoof can be trimmed at the same time, but it is small enough that you can use it as a hand tool.

We grabbed our stand, one of our junior does, Cassette, volunteered to be the test subject, and got started!

Cassette's front feet before we began trimming. You can see how much longer the toe is; clearly the angle of the hoof needs corrected!

Back hoof, pre-trim.

We started with our usual hoof trimmers to take the extra hoof wall material off, then we switched to heavy gloves and the block plane and gave it a try!

The underside of the block plane. Be careful, that blade is SHARP!

The block plane we got is adjustable and we started with it set to take off a very thin amount at a shallow angle. We wanted to go slow so we could figure out how to use this new tool in the best and safest way possible. On the safety note, heavy gloves are important! We used leather work gloves we had (as pictured). They worked well, but I think as we continue to use this tool we will likely upgrade to something like these, made specifically to be cut-resistant

Cassette's hoof after the first couple passes with the block plane. So much more even already!

For this trim, we were focusing specifically on getting the hoof even from side to side, to correct rolling, and to leveling the hoof from front to back. With that in mind, we left more hoof material on the heel to help bring the toe-heel angle into a more correct arrangement. In the future, we will be able to plane across the entire hoof while maintaining the correct angle.

You can see the difference between the trimmed and untrimmed hooves here.

Cassette is already standing much more correctly on her freshly trimmed and planed hoof!

You can see above in this side by side comparison, how much more level the hooves are (in the pic on the right), and that Cassette is standing more correctly on her feet after being trimmed and planed.

The block plane will definitely become a permanent part of our hoof trimming kit!

We recorded the process we used for this very first try with the block plane turned hoof plane! Check out the video below to see how it went!

You will see in the video, Cody is wearing Carharrt Coveralls. He LOVES them and uses them for farm chores daily.


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