Cracked Deer Hooves: Why Does it Happen?

By Brodie SwisherApril 7, 2021

Cracked or damaged deer hooves – why does it happen? Maybe you’ve seen it before on deer that you’ve taken over the years. Or maybe you’ve encountered a deer limping or struggling to walk through the woods. They could have been struggling from some type of injury, but chances are they were battling the effects of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD). 

Check out the video below from our friends at the National Deer Association (NDA) for a look at what can cause cracked deer hooves in white-tailed deer.

NDA’s Chief Communications Officer, Lindsay Thomas Jr. of Georgia, was able to examine a deer reported by NDA member, Keaton Smith. It was a great opportunity to share information about Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD).

The NDA report shared that when deer are battling the viral infection, hoof growth stops. Deer that survive the infection may have cracks that appear as the hooves begin growing again. 

Some recovering deer that are weakened may not make it through winter, so you may find hooves like these on deer carcasses found in the woods. Or, you may see this evidence on otherwise healthy looking deer killed during hunting season, as some deer have milder symptoms and recover from EHD faster than others.

Have you ever encountered a deer with cracked or damaged hooves, or any other signs of EHD? 

Comment below and let us know what you’ve experienced with deer struggling from EHD.

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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