How to Treat Hoof Rot in Goats

Reader Contribution by Shelby Devore and Farminence
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Raising goats is rewarding and entertaining.  What’s not entertaining about goats is their ability to get hoof rot, or hoof scald rather quickly.  This condition, sometimes called thrush, can leave a goat very tender-footed and lame.  A goat that doesn’t feel good won’t move around and won’t eat well.  If you notice a goat that isn’t putting weight on a foot, check them ASAP for hoof rot.  The sooner you treat it, the sooner they will feel better.


What is Hoof Rot?

Goats have two toes, or a cloven hoof. In between the two toes, there is an interdigital space that is fleshy. The interdigital space is warm and usually dry. Goats that are in damp, muddy pastures get moisture in this interdigital space. There are a few types of bacteria that live in the soil that thrive in moist, damp areas like the space between a goat’s toes when wet.

The bacteria multiple and start to produce an enzyme that breaks down the cells of the flesh in between the goat’s toes. So it’s no wonder that a goat with hoof rot has tender feet! If the infection isn’t caught soon enough, the bacteria can eat away parts of the hoof wall, leading to serious damage that often needs veterinary intervention.

As soon as you notice a goat not putting weight on a foot, check them for hoof rot. When you look at the toes, you may notice tissue that looks wet, sticky or even gummy. Hoof rot also has a very strong odor associated with it that you’ll be able to smell when you inspect the foot.

Treating Hoof Rot

Treating hoof rot is pretty simple.  You’ll need a pair of hoof shears, a damp cloth and Hoof n’ Heel. Hoof n’ Heel is one of many treatments out there for thrush. It is the best one out there for goat thrush. I’ve bought other thrush treatments that we used 2x daily for days and didn’t notice a difference. One application of Hoof n’ Heel is usually enough to get goats back on their feet (unless it’s a more advanced infection).

Start by trimming any excess hoof. You want a nice clean surface to work with. Use a hoof pick to clean out the hoof and make sure there aren’t rocks or any other debris causing the lameness.  Use the damp rag to gently clean between the toes to remove any dirt, hair or other debris. Once the wounded area is cleaned, pour the Hoof n’ Heel over the foot. Drench the infected tissue and surrounding tissues. Hold the foot upside down for a minute or two to make sure that the infected tissue soaks up some of the medication. Don’t dry it or dab it. You can treat 2x daily until the tissue is dry and no longer infected.

Preventing Hoof Rot

Hoof rot is hard to prevent to a certain extent because it’s caused by organisms that live in the soil. You can reduce the chances that your goats will develop foot rot though. Make sure that your goats have access to a dry pasture or barn, especially during rainy weather.  Muddy pastures will give goats hoof rot quickly and providing them with dry ground will help prevent that. Goats that are frequently housed in a barn can benefit from foot baths. A copper sulfate foot bath can help prevent hoof rot before it even begins. 

Don’t purchase goats from a herd that is having hoof rot issues.  Hoof rot is contagious and you could be purchasing a goat that is carrying hoof rot. You definitely don’t want to infect your herd with it. 

If you’re treating a goat for hoof rot, keep it separate from the rest of the herd for the same reason.Clean any bedding that may have been infected and make sure the goat’s foot is completely healed before putting him/her back with the herd or on potentially damp pasture. Read more about hoof rot treatment over on my site, Farminence.

Shelby DeVore is an agricultural enthusiast that enjoys writing about gardening, raising livestock and simple living. You can read her most recent posts on or follow Farminence on Pinterest and Twitter. Read all of Shelby’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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