Nutritional Imbalances Affect Hoof Quality

Understanding potential problems can head off or correct foot troubles

Pictured Above: A deficiency in calories is one type of nutritional imbalance. The horse will display little fat covering the base of the spine, and the tailhead, hooks, pins, spine and ribs are prominent. Neck, withers and shoulders are faintly discernible.  Photo: Dr. Preston Buff Extension Service of Mississippi State University

The following article is based on Mike Barker's presentation at the 2019 International Hoof-Care Summit. To watch the presentation, click here.

Nutritional imbalances can harm hoof growth and quality, and it’s not just nutritional deficiencies that can cause problems, Mike Barker warns.

Barker, of Life Data Labs, a Cherokee, Ala.-based producer of equine supplements, says over-supplementation is becoming a major issue, with well-
intentioned owners overloading their horses with minerals, vitamins and amino acids to the point that the horses are unable to properly use those nutrients.

“Essentially, the horse owner would be about as well off rolling down the window on their truck and throwing out $100 bills,” he says. “If you have a specific problem with a horse, then yes, a supplement most likely helps. The most important thing is that the horse is being given a balanced diet. A balanced diet itself is going to remedy a lot of the health issues, dermal tissue issues, within the horse.”

Farrier Takeaways

  • Nutritional imbalances — too much or too little of one or more
    nutrients — can lead to poor hoof quality.
  • Changes in agricultural practices and other factors mean modern
    forages no longer ensure balanced nutrition.
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Ron perszewski

Ron Perszewski

Ron Perszewski is a freelance writer and former associate editor of Ameri­can Farriers Journal.

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