How to Groom Your Goats

If you're raising goats as part of a green lifestyle, your goats won't require a lot of grooming. But grooming pays dividends in the long run by making the goat feel better (who doesn't feel better with a good brushing?), enabling you to evaluate the goat's health, and giving the goat more experience with being handled.

Here are some basic grooming tasks:

  • Brushing: Brushing removes dandruff and loose hair that some goats get and increases blood flow — improving the health of the skin and coat. It also gives you an opportunity to check for any signs of illness or disease, such as a lump, swelling, or other abnormality. At a minimum, brush goats in the late spring or early summer, when they're shedding or throwing off the undercoat that kept them warm in the winter. Use a firm-bristled grooming brush like you can get in any feed store or livestock supply catalog.

    Brush in the direction of the coat starting at the neck, then down the back and down the sides. Make sure to brush the neck, chest, legs, and abdomen.

  • Bathing: You don't have to bathe goats, but doing so helps remove the lice, makes clipping easier, and keeps your clipper blades sharp for a longer time. Goats prefer to be washed with warm water but will survive the inevitable cold water that is all most of us have available. Use a goat or animal shampoo.

    You can use a collar to secure a baby goat or a goat that you can easily control. Secure other goats on a milk stand or by putting on a collar and attaching it to a fence. After the goat is secure, just wet it, lather up the shampoo, and rinse.

    If you plan to clip the goat right away, blow-dry its hair. Otherwise, let the goat dry naturally.

  • Clipping: An annual clipping is a good idea for all goats. Shorter hair helps goats stay cooler and allows sunlight to reach their skin, which drives away lice and other critters. Choose a day after the cold weather is expected to be over.

    Two areas that most people clip more frequently are the tail area prior to kidding and the udder during milking season:

    • Tail to kid: Before, during, and after kidding, blood and fluids stick to the goat's tail and the coat around the tail. Clip up the sides of the tail, across the end of the tail to make a short little brush, and around the vulva area and inside top of the back legs.

    • Udder: Removing hair from the belly and udder makes the udder easier to clean before milking and prevents hairs from falling into the milk.

  • Trimming hooves: Keeping a goat's hooves trimmed is one of the easiest, least expensive, and most important parts of goat care. Regular trimming takes very little time and cuts down on health care expenses in the long term.

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