A Day at the Spa…

…for my goaties!

With every ‘freshening’, my girls get the royal salon treatment: several days of warm towels on their udder along with a peppermint oil message and a full body cut and style!

Why would anyone want to spend hours each spring clipping dairy goats? The answer no doubt will vary with the pleasure and/or purpose derived from goat keeping. There are many reasons along with several types of clipping procedures to follow for those who deem dairy goat clipping a worthy endeavor. First, there’s the dairy trim, the body clip, maintenance trimming, and finally, the show clip.

Just as most of us enjoy a day at the salon, I believe clipped goats (after a cold hard winter) are happy goats! A trimmed dairy goat aids in keeping udders clean and shed hair out of the milk. A dairy clip around the flank and on the fore udder as well as trimmed long hairs that may grow on the udder itself and on the teats, is a good practice to promote goat health as well as for cleanliness in the dairy.

Maintenance clipping can be done anytime in the spring when the weather has settled. We like to use an electric clipper with a No. 10 blade for the body hairs. This includes the growth on the fore udder to the midline of the doe as far forward as her mid-belly underneath and starting about four inches up the flank. This “neatening up” is done in the first few days after she freshens.

On the udder, the same clipper is used with a No. 20 blade. The entire udder area front and rear is clipped. When the udder is washed, there is little hair left to hold dirt or bacteria. With a No. 20 blade, there is little chance of nicking the skin, even on a doe showing displeasure with the process. There should be no cause for chafing or scraping as well, and the fresh trimmed doe will appear well-groomed in working-girl attire.

Take extra care with pink skinned and white does when you trim, especially if the spring weather has turned warm and sunny. Goats can sunburn their udders. A human sun block suitable for the beach works well on these gals and needs to be applied for only a few days. As an alternative, cornstarch brushed onto the skin and applied each morning at milking does the job nicely, is organic, washes out easily, and does not gather dirt as a human sunscreen would.

The spring clip is also likely to reveal skin difficulties that may have been hiding in the thick coats all winter (ie lice in my Pygora, Brutus!). It’s not unusual to find lice or fungus on goats that have seemed perfectly healthy. Close clipped hair allows for any treatment to reach the skin. We also like to shampoo each goat at least once a year, weather permitting.

If one is planning to attend a show, the calendar needs be consulted. White goats, black goats and Oberhasli require a slight regrowth to make the most of their brilliant colors. You’ll want to clip them two weeks to 10-days in advance of the show/fair. A smooth over-all appearance is the goal, so it is important not to present any visual distracters in the show ring. It’s best to look to the Dairy Goat Score card to understand where to place the major emphasis in the clipping process.  (Excerpts taken from Dairy Goat Journal.)

I think my goats get better treatment than I, but they’re worth it!