Goat clipping is a skill that should be on every goat keeper’s list. The warmer months bring a variety of reasons to clip your goats. Even without the necessity of clipping for show, it’s good to bathe and clip your goats , as it provides relief from the heat, and a purging of any external parasites they may still be harboring from the winter months.
Not all clippers are created equal. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. My first set of clippers was a cheap set for shaving human heads. Nope. Then I upgraded slightly to a better pair of small clippers made for animals. Nope again. The clippers get incredibly hot, and the motor just doesn’t have the power to get through goat coats. Rather than buy several sets of cheap clippers that don’t work, invest in good ones from the start. A friend of mine who clips her goats for show uses the Oster Variable Speed Clipmaster Clipping Machine and loves it. I have used it on my goats and love it, and I will be getting my own soon. I also have other friends who clip livestock who swear by the Groomer’s Edge Power Clipper 401. Both clippers are very pricey, but well worth the investment if you plan to clip your goats regularly.
You will need at least two different blades for you clippers if you plan to clip dairy goats, a size 10 blade for the body clipping and a size 50 blade for clean shaving udders. The number of each blade indicates the length of hair it will leave behind, the lower the number, the longer the hair. If you plan to do show clips, it’s also advisable to have 7 blade and an 8.5 blade as well.
Bathing Your Goat
Washing you goats before clipping them is easier on the wear of your clipper blades, and it’s a good way to ensure you’re goats skin and hair gets a nice clean and rids them of any external parasites you may not be aware of. We use Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor for Dogs and Cats, as it’s easy to find, and works great for lice and mites as it contains Pyrethrins. There are a wide variety of livestock shampoos out there for anything else you may want address, from skin and coat issues, to heavier parasite infestations. We put our goats into the milk stand, outside, and then wet them down with warm water, lather them, then give them a good rinse with warm water followed by a brief towel off. It’s important to do this on a warm day with warm water so your goat doesn’t catch a chill from being damp.
Clipping Your Goat
When I’m goat clipping, I always start with the face. I find it’s easier to deal with this part of the clip first because the goat and I are both fresh and not yet irritable and this can be a very tricky area. For the head, always use a 10 blade and a smaller set of clippers if they’re available. Go against the hair growth and work to maintain even pressure with the longest strokes possible. Take great care when working around and over the eye area. Be sure to clip inside the ears so tattoos can be clearly read for show or Linear Appraisal.
After I finish with the head, I will give my goat a little grain to keep them occupied as I move on to the body. A 10 blade is good for a body clip if you’re just clipping for comfort, or if you’re clipping two weeks out before show or appraisal on a lighter colored goat. For a darker colored goat, especially one with a lot of black it’s better to use a 7 or 8.5 blade on the body. Darker coats can sometimes look pretty terrible if cut too short when skin or lighter undercoat shows through.
It’s also good to use a longer blade if you are only days away from a show or appraisal, as it’s easier to correct and less likely to show clipping imperfections. Clip against the hair growth, maintain even pressure, and try to use long motions. It’s also important to have a cooling lubricant on hand to treat the blades frequently, as they tend to get very hot. If you see clipper lines in the coat, go back over the area with your clippers slowly and carefully.
Use a 10 blade for clipping the legs. Most goats hate having their legs done, so be prepared. Make sure to clip around the top of the hoof cleanly so the feet can be seen. I will pick up the leg I’m working on and hold it firmly while going around the hoof area. For the inset portions of the leg where only skin is present, use your free hard to push it out from the inside, so you can clip it all cleanly. When working on the inside area of a leg, work from the opposite side, holding up the opposite leg so the goat is forced to keep the leg you’re clipping planted in order to maintain their balance.
I use the 50 blade for clipping the udder. This will give you a nice, clean shave. Some people will use a BIC razor and shaving cream the day of a show to get a super clean and shiny shave, but I have never done this myself. Clipping the udder well is incredibly important if you’re showing a dairy doe or having one appraised. It’s best to clip the udder when it’s bagged up so that you can reach all areas effectively. Be sure to clip the entire udder area, making sure to include the fore udder and beyond underneath the doe. Lift the rear legs and get all of the side udder – this area can trap a lot of dirt. Clip a small arch extending above the udder area in order to show the attachment of the udder to it’s best advantage.
The Tail Clip
Clip the majority of the tail with a 10 blade. Leave a “fringe” on the end, cutting it with scissors or your clippers, across the top for a strait finished edge.
Once the overall clip is complete, take a dry towel, and “dust” them a bit to dislodge loose hair. You can also go over them with a soft brush. Observe them in the following day or two to see if there are any areas in need of a touch up. Before showing, taking photos, or appraisal, it is sometimes nice to give them a spritz with a product like Showsheen to give them a nice healthy glow, and brush out any dirt or debris they may have picked up.