Hoof Health – Nutrition For Healthy Hooves
You may have heard the phrase “NO HOOF, NO HORSE” which highlights how crucial the health and the strength of the hoof for horse soundness.
That said for a horse, the hooves are low on the their list of priorities. The nutrients provided in the diet are first used for survival. Supplying first the vital organs like the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs then if sufficient key nutrients remain, the hoof tissue is then supplied. Unhealthy hooves are a good indication of inadequate levels of nutrients supplied in the diet.
They rely on a nutrient-rich blood supply to ensure proper growth and strength. Some of the key nutrients for hoof health include:
Over 90% of the hoof wall is protein.
Keratin is an extremely strong protein and is the major component in skin, mane and tail, hooves, and teeth as is the case for us with our skin, hair and nails.
Many of the amino acids that are needed for keratin are never deficient; horses can manufacture them from other amino acids.
Two that are required from the diet is methionine and lysine as they cannot be manufactured from other amino acids.
They are both of great importance in the strengthening of the hoof structure.
Lysine deficiency is common in horses that are fed diets high in cereal grains, and can result in a restriction of growth.
Methionine is often the second limiting amino acid, and is unique in that it is a sulfur-containing amino acid. Sulfur is critical to hoof quality because the main protein in hooves, keratin, is very high in sulfur.
Omega 3 fatty acids –
Important for the shine and slick looking surface brought about from a network of fats and waxes. They are essential in in the diet to maintain the “glue” holding the hoof together. They keep the environmental moisture out but critical tissue moisture in.
Supports the enzymatic reaction that produces the disulfide bonds which link the keratin proteins in the hoof.
Zinc is necessary for healthy skin, hair, and hooves, while Copper increases hoof wall strength.
Vitamin A assists in maintaining the integrity of epithelial cell walls, and is needed for healthy skin and keratin. It is synthesized in the horse’s intestine from beta-carotene, which is abundant in fresh forage. Freshly cut hay also contains some Vitamin A, but this level decreases after hay is baled.
Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin, previously known as vitamin H and works to improve tissue growth. Although biotin is produced by the bacteria in the horse’s hindgut as it ferments forages, it may not be produced in sufficient amounts or easily absorbed by the horse.
Other aspects that affect the quality and integrity of the hoof wall is genetics and hoof care/trimming.
Healthy hooves are built from the inside out.
Make the centre point of your horse’s diet a grassy hay or fresh pasture (if available).
Provide quality vitamins, minerals and Omega 3 supplementation which will fill in nutritional gaps and help to ensure overall health, while maintaining excellent hoof quality.
❓Any questions? Please ask in the comments below👇🏻👍🏻
🖊Written by Bryan Meggitt (BMedSc. PGCrtMedSc.)
Manager and Co-founder of CEN – Complete Equine Nutrition
👨🏻🔬Bryan is a scientist and equine nutrition educator through the nutrition principles of Dr Juliet Getty and Dr Eleanor Kellon.
Bryan is passionate about improving equine health through proper natural nutrition according to nature and science.
He believes a horse should be fed according to their natural physiology, to achieve optimum health and enhance performance.
More articles at the CEN Website: https://equinefeeds.com.au/blog/
CEN Healthy Equine Products:
🔹 CEN Complete Formula Feed has a very strong and balanced Vitamin and Mineral profile in a healthy fibre based feed + pre and probiotics.
💎 CEN Oil helps the horses body absorb key Vitamins A,D,E and K due to their fat solubility. High in quality plant based Omega 3 it is the perfect addition to all hay based diets.
🔸 CEN XtraBalance keeps the gut microbiome in check to ensure better absorption of nutrients, stronger immune system and removal of mycotoxins.
🇦🇺 More information through the CEN Store: https://equinefeeds.com.au/censtore/