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 are the concerns with over and under supplementation on hoof quality?
By Mike Barker
A: From hoof quality to athletic ability, good nutrition influences every aspect of a horse’s health. Nutritional imbalances result when a horse is fed too little or too much of a nutrient. Quality forage and grain should provide the bulk of a horse’s nutritional needs, but supplements also may be needed to balance a ration.
Many horse owners specifically choose to feed supplements with the goal of improving the quality of a horse’s hooves, but they might not always know the appropriate quantity of a supplement to feed. Over-supplementation and under-supplementation of nutrients can negatively affect a horse’s hoof growth and quality, as well as the overall health of the horse. Throughout the course of regularly scheduled visits, a farrier might notice some of the symptoms indicative of a nutritional imbalance:
1 Poor, unthrifty hair coat that appears dull with hair that breaks easily, grows slowly or sheds frequently.
2 Loss of muscle, especially along the topline, which may affect conformation and performance.
3 Low energy levels.
4 Slow-growing hooves that split, crack or flake.
When we talk about poor nutrition for the hoof, we’re going to be limited to very slow to no growth. We often end up with thin hoof walls that want to split or crack. When you have a situation like that, you’re going to have difficulty maintaining and holding a shoe between resets.
Hooves affected by poor nutrition are also prone to secondary issues, such as thrush, white line disease, abscesses and microbial infections.
A balanced equine diet is made up of protein, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. We have to balance each and every one of those nutrients in order to achieve the balanced diet each horse needs so that we don’t end up with an excess or deficiency in a specific nutrient that the horse needs for daily function.
It is prudent to consult an equine nutritionist and set nutritional goals for a horse before embarking upon a feeding program.
Mike Barker is a product representative with Life Data Labs in Cherokee, Ala.
Click here to read part 1 of the Nov. 15, 2020 installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: Can high levels of fructans in the diet lead to laminitis concerns? Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.