What Are Hooves?

The Hoof seems like one of those animal body parts we are taught in kindergarten.  It's like a wing or a beak, everyone knows what a hoof is, right? We are usually taught that farm animals have hooves and that hooves are on the animal's feet.

Hooves are technically the animal's toe tip, but the toes are encased in a sturdy keratin outside.  Hooves are like a protective shell around the end of your toe.  In fact, that sounds great for humans doesn't it?  Imagine how much less it would hurt when you stubbed your toe at night!  But, hooves are a little bit more complex then that and have multiple structures involved, including a heel like area known as the frog.

Why Do Animals Have Hooves?

  • Supporting the weight of the animal
  • Transferring energy when stepping down on foot
  • Protecting the foot and tender tissues
  • Helping the animals with walking

What The Heck Are Cloven Hooves?

Some animals have their hooves divided in two hooves, which can be distinctly seen when looking at their feet.  Pigs, for example, have cloven hooves or two hooves.   To better understand the difference between regular and cloven hooves then you want to head over to the Ungulates Center to learn about about the differences between the even-toed ungulates and the odd-toed ungulates.  See you guys there defenders!

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