View Full Version : What's up with these hooves?

November 22, 2001, 08:35 PM
Anyone seen hooves like these on a deer before? These are from a six-point buck taken on a farm in central NY. Any explanation? Thanks!

November 22, 2001, 11:40 PM
Once saw a horse with a like condition, was told it was caused by being fed too much grain.

Art Eatman
November 22, 2001, 11:59 PM
Ran across a burro in some mesquite-flat country along Terlingua Creeks whose hooves were like that. He couldn't have seen corn in years!

Could the deer have been hanging around soft-ground swampy areas? Where there might not be coarse and/or hard enough soil for normal wear? Dunno.

For some reason the disease "thrush" comes to mind. Try a Google search under that and then, maybe "curved hooves"?


November 23, 2001, 12:11 AM
I agree with Art. I've seen pics of moose with similar hooves. I was told it was because of the marsh and soft ground they walk on. I dont know for sure but it sure is wierd.

Art Eatman
November 23, 2001, 09:30 AM
Legionnaire, since it's long-distance for me to call a veterinarian, I'll let you do it.

:), Art

November 23, 2001, 11:48 AM
Hey, Art; calling a vet isn't a bad idea! I'll also give google a spin. Will let you know if I come up with anything.

The idea that it may have to do with marshy land is plausible, as there are some definite marshes around. But there is also enough "regular" terrain that this doesn't seem to be the likely cause.

November 23, 2001, 03:49 PM
I asked the same question over at huntingbbs.com. Answers thus far seem to suggest combination of both terrain and diet. See that thread at:


One of the respondents there referred me to deertracking.com. Here's the link to their "Ask the Experts" column, the first note being on unusually long hooves:


Now I've got to research "Hemorrhagic Disease!"

November 23, 2001, 06:30 PM

Have you been hunting around Nuclear Power Plants:D

November 23, 2001, 07:50 PM
My guess is those are the hooves of an animal that's been rasied all it's life in a small pen. Like human finger nails a deer's hooves will grow and grow. It's walking around that wears them down. Since this deer came off a game farm I'd say it was a raised in a small feed-lot then set out just prior to harvest. -- Kernel

November 23, 2001, 10:02 PM
Kernel, it wasn't from a game farm, nor is there one in the area. By "farm" I simply meant "farm." The land is owned by an M.D. and rented to a local farmer that raises feed crops (corn and alfalfa). Below the farm are extensive woods, and further down the valley are the swamps and creeks. The deer was definitely "free range." It might have hung around a small plot of land, but even then, I doubt it was ever penned.

November 24, 2001, 04:34 PM
Hooves like that are not uncommon among feral burros that hang out in urbanized areas.


Bud Helms
November 24, 2001, 07:01 PM
'Just a guess, but it sure looks like something in it's diet super-charged the growth of that type of cell.

Was it a collard green farm? :D

November 27, 2001, 11:57 AM
My wife the DVM is sitting here next to me and she has no definate explanation however she has some ideas.
1. Possibly the deer has some sort of ligament/tendon disorder which is causing an incorrect flexion of the foot and therefore causing improper wear of the foot/I.E, not able to trim his hooves on the ground.
2. It may be a simple case of the ground this buck lived on was soft enough to prevent normal hoof wear.
3. She does not think that it is anything to worry about as far consumption of the meat as long as he had no other signs of disease.

November 27, 2001, 12:05 PM
obviously a lack of two things: 1) thumbs, greatly hindering the ability to use 2) toenail clippers.
Sorry couldn't resist.

November 27, 2001, 12:40 PM
This poor animal was obviously handicapped, and you should be ashamed for taking it.:D

On second thought, you should be commended for putting it out of its misery. I'm sure it was teased by all the other deer.

November 27, 2001, 02:18 PM
you'se guys have never seen an Appalacian skiing Whitetail before?

November 27, 2001, 02:20 PM
notice how the back "dew claws" are long too?

i don't think this is "lack of wear" related

November 27, 2001, 03:06 PM
It does look like an equine condition called "founder" which is caused when the horses' system is overloaded with too much grain at one time or consumes too much lush green forage. If it is "founder", this animal should have been barely able to walk and would have been in constant pain. You've probably done him a favor.

A wild stallion will take his herd into a stream or river to stand for a while to soften the hooves. He'll then take them into rough terrain to wear off the excess foot. Thats one reason we use a Farrier or Blacksmith on domestic horses. They don't have option of wearing down their own feet.

November 27, 2001, 03:29 PM

Roger Lambert, Department of Zoology, University of Aberdeen

What you are seeing in the photograph to the right is the result of a very small genetic error in the animal's genome when it was conceived. i.e. the genetic blueprint was fine, except one gene was ever so slightly corrupted. What then happens, is when the cells concerned with foot growth and development divide, as old ones die off, the new cells become more and more corrupt. In this case the balance of the bio-chemicals that control cell growth in the feet are completely out of balance as a result of an ever so slightly faulty gene. Usually, in roe deer, because they are genetically what we call polymorphic, (they keep their options open and can change genetically slightly between generations) genetic abnormalities are rare. Roe deer also have a high level of heterozygosity (genetic fitness) which gives the species a selective advantage. A deformity like this could also be the result of a recessive gene as a result of in-breeding within the population. Over successive generations the abnormality becomes more and more dominant, the eventual result is that genetic line eventually dying out because they cannot adapt to the abnormality (Darwinian theory i.e. 'survival of the fittest').

November 27, 2001, 04:09 PM
you da man!!
I love TFL, where else can you obtain such knowledge?:D

November 27, 2001, 04:26 PM

Thanks for the great follow-up. Doesn't sound like HD, as this deer was big and otherwise appeared healthy (no visible mouth or tongue ulcers); nor did it appear to be in pain as it walked (but what do I know about deer pain?). A genetic error makes sense.

Thanks again!