Battle Winter Moisture Woes with Nutrition

Improve hoof quality with supplements and shorter shoeing cycles

Pictured Above: Omega-3 fatty acids and phospholipids, which help produce stronger hoof wall and balance moisture, are significantly diminished after hay is harvested.

Farrier Takeaways

  • The nutritional quality of hay and winter dormant grass is significantly lower than fresh pasture grass. Omega-3 fatty acids and phospholipids are notably diminished during this time and a supplement will help produce stronger hoof wall and balance moisture.
  • Stretching out hoof-care intervals during the winter is harmful to feet. Long toes and flares put mechanical stress on the white line and will lead to failure.
  • Keeping feet dry during the winter with increased bedding and snow pads will help avoid retracted soles.

As summer gives way to fall, the diets of your clients’ horses change with the seasons. Hoof quality often transitions with it.

Once winter arrives in cold climates, protecting the foot becomes increasingly challenging. Horses are often turned out in snow and mud where their hooves absorb moisture. Those with poor hoof quality become a playground for opportunistic bacteria. Improving the nutrition of a horse with compromised horn can play a part in preventing problems heading into the winter months.

Fresh pasture grass is a significant source of nutrition for horses, but it’s nutritional value diminishes rapidly after harvest.

“The switch from pasture grass to hay is often the prime factor leading to loss of body and hoof condition,” says Dr. Scott Gravlee, an equine veterinarian and nutrition consultant with Cherokee, Ala.-based Life Data Labs. “The nutritional quality of hay is less…

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Jeff Cota

Jeff Cota has been a writer, photographer and editor with newspapers and magazines for 30 years. A native of Maine, he is the Lead Content Editor of American Farriers Journal.

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