NUTRITION FOR HEALTHY HOOVES AND A SOUND HORSE

Dr Jim Rawlinson BVMS MBA MRCVS

The equine hoof is a marvel of evolutionary development. It is a complex structure designed by nature to take the stresses and impacts generated whenever our magnificent horses walk, trot, canter or gallop, whether in the field, ridden at home or during competition. The hoof absorbs shocks and stresses from hard or soft ground whilst protecting the vulnerable internal foot structures from sharp penetrations. Keeping the hoof strong and healthy is essential in keeping a horse sound.

The wall and sole are primarily made of horn, and its growth and maintenance is fundamental to a strong foot. A protein called Keratin is the main component of the horn, a complex molecule requiring a lot of different and essential nutrients to form.  New wall horn is continuously produced at the coronary band and it can take over a year for it to grow through to contact with the ground. To achieve this the horse’s nutrition has to supply the key building blocks all year round. If the diet is lacking in some of these core components the horn can grow slowly, be of poor quality, and can become prone to cracks and injuries.

Biotin is a vitamin used throughout the body but is well known as being vital for the growth of healthy hoof horn. Biotin levels in regular feedstuffs can vary widely and supplementation has been shown to significantly improve horn quality. 1,2 The quality and bioavailability (how easy it is for the horse to absorb the Biotin) can vary, 3 so it’s important to choose a supplement specifically formulated for horses from a trusted supplier. Because the hooves grow slowly it means that supplementation should be considered a long-term addition to your horse’s diet.

It’s important to remember that Biotin is not the only nutrient needed for healthy hooves. Sulphur is critical in forming the bonds that give the horn it’s strength. 4

Certain key amino acids such as Methionine, Lysine and Cysteine are the building blocks of protein and are central to forming good quality keratin.

There are also trace elements that are particularly important for hoof integrity such as Calcium, Manganese and Zinc.

When considering the complex requirements needed for hoof growth, and how much we and our horses depend on healthy feet, a good quality supplement containing all the core building blocks is a sensible precaution.

Nettex VIP Hoof Builder

Nettex VIP Hoof Builder

Nettex V.I.P Hoof Builder not only contains some of the highest levels of biotin available in a hoof supplement, delivering 50mg of biotin per feed (by comparison with as low as 10-15mg in some competitor products), it also contains the fundamental micronutrients necessary in the  diet to support healthy, strong hooves and encourage hoof growth. These include

  • MSM, a good source of bioavailable sulphur
  • Key amino acids and trace elements such as Zinc, Manganese, Lysine, Cysteine and Methionine
  • Brewer’s yeast, a rich source of B vitamins
  • Omega-3 fatty acids to maintain hoof, skin and coat condition.

More information on the Nettex Hoof Care Range along with expert advice can be found at https://www.nettexequine.com/range/hoofcare/

  • Josseck et al, 1995 Equine Vet Journal 27, 175-182
  • Zenker et al, 1995 Equine Vet Journal 27, 183-191
  • Schenk & Kolb 1982 Grundrisz der physiologischen Chemie. VEB Gustav Fisher Verlag, Jena
  • Equine Applied and Clinical Nutrition, Geor, Harris & Coenen, Saunders)

 

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