Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.
Below you will find Part 1 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.
Q: What is the role of the B vitamins in hoof quality and growth?
By Eleanor Kellon, VMD
Since all of the B vitamins are involved in some way with protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism and their interactions, they play very important roles in a tissue as active as the hoof. As you probably already know, biotin gets the most attention and has been shown in research studies to improve hoof quality. In addition, biotin is also essential for the synthesis of long-chain fatty acids and may also be contributing that way to hoof quality.
Most biotin studies have suggested supplementing biotin at a rate of 20 mg/day for a full-sized horse.
In cattle, a loose white line connection in the hoof is the hallmark of a biotin deficiency High grain feeding in cows is known to decrease the pH in the rumen and decrease synthesis of biotin by the bacteria. The same likely occurs in horses. Because we don’t know how heavily the horse relies on synthesized biotin versus biotin in the diet, I routinely supplement with 10 mg/day in horses being fed grain.
A horse on a heavily forage-based diet is unlikely to be deficient in B vitamins. On the other hand, it certainly isn’t far-fetched to suspect poor hoof quality could sometimes be a marker of inadequate B vitamin intake. Because of the high concentration of protein in the hoof wall, the B vitamins most involved in protein metabolism should probably get special attention. These include biotin, pyridoxine, folic acid and B12.
No evidence exists for B12 or folic acid deficiencies in horses. But because of folic acid’s key role in nitric oxide generation, which is critical for keeping the blood vessels open, I often supplement it in insulin-resistant horses.
The B vitamin in the group listed here with the least available information is pyridoxine. The equine requirement for pyridoxine has never been established or even estimated, which makes it difficult for me to feel comfortable that it can be ignored. Supplementation of horses with 100 to 200 mg/day of pyridoxine is conservative and reasonable.
Dr. Eleanor Kellon, a staff veterinary specialist for Uckele Health & Nutrition, has been an established authority in the field of equine nutrition for over 30 years. The owner of Equine Nutritional Solutions in Robesonia, Pa., she is a founding member and leader of the Equine Cushings and Insulin Resistance (ECIR) group, whose mission is to improve the welfare of horses with metabolic disorders via integration of research and real-life clinical experience. Prevention of laminitis is the ultimate goal.
Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine).
Like many significant achievements, Absorbine® grew out of humble beginnings—and through the tenacity of someone willing to question the status quo. In this case, it was a young woman in late 19th-century Massachusetts: Mary Ida Young. Her husband, Wilbur Fenelon Young, was an enterprising piano deliveryman who relied on the couple’s team of horses to make deliveries throughout the Northeast. Inspired by Mary Ida and Wilbur’s vision, Absorbine® has continued to add innovative products throughout the years — products used every day by horse owners around the world. Which is why, since 1892, we’ve been The Horse World’s Most Trusted Name®.
Click here to read Part 2 of the June 15, 2018 installment: Should I be concerned about turning my three horses out with all the concerns about pasture-associated laminitis?