Hoof rot is a nasty condition that many livestock species can get. Treating hoof rot is easy if it is caught early. If you think one of your goats has foot rot, check them ASAP. The sooner you can get them treated the easier it will be on both you and them.
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What is hoof rot?
Hoof rot is a condition that is caused by an infection from two organisms.
Goats have cloven hooves and an interdigital space between the two toes. This interdigital space is warm, which is attractive to pathogens looking to set up shop.
Infections don’t usually bother animals that have dry space between the toes.
Hoof rot is most likely to occur when the goats are on wet pastures for extended periods of time. The interdigital space becomes moist and warm, which creates the perfect home for bacteria and fungi.
Two organisms cause foot rot in goats: Fusobacterium necrophorum and Bacteroides nodusus.
Fusobacterium necrophorum is an organism that lives in the soil.
It doesn’t want to be in the air because it is anaerobic and can only grow in the absence of oxygen. This is exactly the situation in deep, muddy pastures or stalls.
When Bacteroides nodusus is introduced, the two organisms work together and create an enzyme that causes hoof rot.
Purdue University has a great PDF printable that goes into more detail about foot rot in sheep and goats.
You may notice your goats limping, holding up a leg or even trying to walk around on their knees.
There are many reasons that goats may have foot problems, but hoof rot is common and should be a first thought. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to investigate.
Clean the hooves out and trim them back if needed.
Make sure there aren’t any rocks or cuts that may be causing the soreness.
Hoof rot causes sticky tissue between the toes. It also creates a distinct smell that you’ll notice when you pick up the hoof.
If your goat has hoof rot, you’ll want to treat that immediately.
Treating hoof rot
A goat with hoof rot should be separated from the rest of the herd until he/she is healed. Hoof rot is contagious and you don’t want to spread it to the rest of your herd.
Put the goat in a milking stand or have someone help you as you treat the hoof. The foot is quite sore and they aren’t going to want you touching it. It makes it easier if you have help that can distract the goat while you work.
Start by trimming the feet up.
Cut off any excess hoof tissue to create a nice clean working area.
Use a warm, wet cloth and clean up around the foot. Remove any dirt or debris. Use a hoof rot treatment, such as Hoof n’ Heel, and soak the infected area.
Hold the hoof upside down when treating to make sure that the medication gets down into the infected tissue really well before you put the foot down.
Repeat the treatment twice a day until the tissue is healthy and the goat is no longer sore.
Preventing hoof rot
Hoof rot is most common during the rainy seasons.
If your goats are on pasture, provide them housing or an area that is dry. Goats that are constantly on moist ground will develop foot rot really fast.
Giving them a dry spot to escape will help.
Unfortunately, goats that have dry areas to escape to may still develop foot rot.
It’s a good idea to have hoof rot treatments on hand so that goats can be treated as soon as they develop signs of foot rot. If you house your goats indoors, you may want to provide your goats with copper sulfate foot baths as a precaution for foot rot.
Always provide them with clean, dry bedding.
If you’re purchasing new goats, don’t buy a goat from a farm that is dealing with hoof rot issues, even if the animal(s) you’re looking at don’t have foot rot. If you’re thinking about getting goats, check out my Guide to Getting Goats and the Best Dairy Goat Breeds.
Hoof rot is contagious and the organisms causing it can get off of an infected goat’s hoof and into bedding or the pasture. This makes it easier for the organisms to infect your healthy goats.
Hoof rot is a common issue that goat owners have to deal with.
It’s best to learn how to treat it and have the equipment on hand to treat it in case it appears in your goat herd. Another common issue with goats is barber pole worm infestations. You can prevent barber pole worms with FAMACHA scoring.
You might also be interested in:
- Beginner’s Guide to Raising Goats
- Dairy Goat Breeds
- Heritage Livestock
- Treating a Weak Goat Kid
- FAMACHA Scoring
Have you dealt with hoof rot or hoof scald in your herd? How do you prevent it or manage it? Let me know below!