Is It Okay To Shave A Goat?

Goats are generally hardy creatures and are often kept by homesteaders and farmers. They are regarded as low-maintenance grooming animals. There are many different goat breeds with coats of varying lengths. Sometimes the goat may get scruffy, dirty, and need some grooming. If you are new to keeping goats, you may be unsure if it is okay to shave your goat. 

Goats can be clipped or shaved. There are many benefits to clipping goats, including hygiene, reducing smell, making milking easier, and show purposes. Shaving a goat helps the goat keep cool in hot weather. Goats kept for their wool are shaved twice a year to harvest the wool. 

There are many advantages to shaving goats, but this must be carried out with care and in the right season to ensure the goats stay healthy. 

Dirty matted long haired goat with horns
ID 189463399 © Natalya Stepina |

What Factors Are Important In Deciding To Shave Your Goat?

Goats often live in grasslands or scrub bushlands where grass burrs, twigs, and thorns may become matted in their coats. This coat debris is uncomfortable for the goat and can cause sores or even abscesses. If this is a problem you experience with your goats, it is kinder to keep their coats shorter by shaving them. 

Goats with long wool may become matted with mud, be damp, and unable to dry. A goat that gets soaked may struggle to move under the weight of the wet wool. Wet wool that does not dry well results in moist eczema, which is painful and compromises the skin. Bacteria and fungi can enter, and a nasty infection may occur. 

Goats get urine on the undersides of their coats which causes a highly offensive smell. Goats are also generally strong-smelling, and clipping their coat reduces their natural odor. It also prevents urine residues from being left on the hair. 

Your goats may also look ragged and dirty, and you wish to neaten up their appearance by shaving them. 

Goats are commonly kept in climates where the summer temperatures are high. They may struggle with heat stress if their coat is too thick or long. Heat distress can be prevented by keeping the goat shorn. 

Shaved Goats Can Be Easier To Manage

Goats with shaved or short coats are easier for a farmer or goat owner to manage. Parasites such as ticks, lice, and mites can be spotted quickly, and the appropriate intervention programs implemented.

Goats tolerate heat relatively well, but goats with high metabolisms, such as pregnant or lactating does and mating rams, are more susceptible to heat stress. Temperatures over 86° F (30° C) can be dangerous to most goats. Goats with short coats can cool themselves more efficiently than those with a full coat. 

Are Dairy Goats Clipped?

Dairy goats are often clipped in a style known as the dairy trim. The wool or hair around the udder and the goat’s underside is kept short to make milking easier. Some dairy goat keepers prefer to keep the coat shorter over the whole body, but this is not strictly necessary and can be problematic in cold weather. 

The most important aspect relating to goat hair in goats that are milked is that the hair must be kept out of the milk. Goats’ odor is transferred on their hair, making it crucial to avoid stray hairs falling in the milk. Nobody wants to taste the goat when they consume goat dairy products. 

It is good hygienic practice and results in better products if dairy goats are trimmed. This will require regular grooming for the period that the goat is lactating. The coat can be allowed to grow during pregnancy.

Herd of dairy goat in a barn
ID 15590825 © Willeecole |

How Often Are Wool Goats Shaved?

Angora goats’ wool is harvested and called mohair. Angora goats are shorn twice a year to collect the fleece. Spring is a good time for harvesting mohair as the goat has grown a thick coat for winter. It benefits the goat to lose the heavy wool before the summer heat. 

The second shearing period is during the fall before the breeding season. This shearing must be well-timed as the sheep must grow enough wool to protect them through winter. It is frustrating and poor husbandry to lose goats to the cold because of ill-timed shearing.  

Other goat breeds may be shaved to collect the soft, downy undercoat that forms cashmere. The undercoat is thickest towards the end of winter. Cashmere goats are usually only shorn once a year at the end of winter.

Some people prefer not to shear cashmere goats as the fleece includes the long guard hairs. They choose to comb the wool to obtain the cashmere. This can only be done in early spring as the weather begins to warm.   

Why Are Show Goats Shaved?

Show goats are shaved to present a neat, clean appearance. It is crucial for the show judge to be able to see the goat’s conformation clearly for the assessment and scoring. A shaved or clipped goat facilitates this. 

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Are There Disadvantages Of Shaving Goats?

Goats that are sheared at the wrong time of the year can be disadvantaged and develop health problems. Goats that are sheared too late in fall may become chilled, prone to frostbite and death from the cold. This is a particular problem for the goats if there is an early freeze in winter. 

Goats that are shaved in the fall must have access to shelter. The goat owner must be aware of providing warmth for the goats if the weather suddenly deteriorates. Wet, cold weather is particularly detrimental in dropping a goat’s temperature below acceptable levels.

There is a temptation to shave goats very close to the skin if they live in hot climates in an attempt to keep them cool. Although it may help keep the goat’s temperature down, there is a risk of the goat’s skin being burned by the sun. The sun can severely burn the goat resulting in heatstroke, which may even cause death. 

It is vital to shave your goat’s coat to the appropriate length at the correct time of the year. 

Final Thoughts

Goats can be shaved, and in many instances, it is beneficial both to the goat and the goat owner. It is critical to know the reasons you are shaving your goat as this affects the length you leave the hair or wool. The shaved goat must receive additional warmth or protection from the sun as needed.  

Dane McManis

Dane started learning about farming while volunteering on a farm. Now he and his wife raise chickens, pigs, and ducks on their small farm with their two little girls.

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