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 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.
Q: How long does it take to build strong hooves?
By Kentucky Equine Research staff
A: A horse with poor-quality hooves can be a concern for its owner. In areas with a hot, dry climate, horses may have hoof horn that is dull, brittle and easily chipped or split. If hoof problems become severe, the horse is at increased risk for lameness situations that can impact its comfort and usefulness.
Rethinking a complete hoof management program for these horses often leads to hooves that look better and help the horse stay sound. However, just as owners can’t change the climate where their horses live, they also can’t expect quick results. Building strong hooves takes at least 6-12 months, and nothing can speed this process.
Hoof growth is influenced by several factors. These include age, breed, genetics, metabolic rate, exercise, external temperature, environmental moisture, illness, trimming and shoeing. Important nutritional influences include energy intake, protein, intake, amino acid intake and metabolism, minerals such as zinc and calcium and vitamins such as biotin and vitamin A.
When faced with poor-quality hooves, the first thing to consider when evaluating a feed program is total energy intake. Meeting energy requirements may be the first and most important step in ensuring hoof growth and integrity for horses kept in any climate. A horse with a negative energy balance will utilize protein in the diet or body to make up energy needs for maintenance or growth. This may create a secondary protein or amino acid deficiency.
Kentucky Equine Research is a nutrition consulting company located in Versailles, Ky.
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Click here to read part 1 of the Nov. 15, 2019 installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: Why is keratin so important to hoof health?