Hoof Nutrition Intelligence 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: What are the most critical interactions between nutrients and hoof growth?

By Connie Larson, PhD

A: When considering the most critical interactions between nutrients and hoof growth, keep in mind that a balanced delivery of nutrients is important. Requirements are based on the mature weight, age and performance or production demands for each horse.

It is necessary to meet all of the requirements for energy, protein, vitamins and minerals before focusing on nutrients for a specific function such as hoof growth. As the diet is evaluated more closely to determine the interactions between nutrients and growth for the various types of hoof tissues, special attention needs to be paid to specific amino acids, minerals and vitamins.

Specific nutrients have been identified as critical in the hoof growth processes. Providing balanced levels of these nutrients can influence hoof growth for maintenance, repair and prevention of future hoof problems. However, remember that the key is balanced intake.

Feeding more nutrients is not always in the best interest of the horse. Feeding excessive amounts of specific amino acids disrupts the total amino acid balance. Plus, high selenium levels can actually be more harmful than beneficial for the hoof.

There are many reputable, well-balanced supplements and complete feeds on the market that provide adequate levels of each of these nutrients. Being informed on the nutrient function and working with a feed dealer can help horse owners make sound buying and feeding decisions. 

Connie Larson is an equine nutritionist and researcher with Zinpro Corp. in Eden Prairie, Minn. A frequent contributor to American Farriers Journal and a speaker at the International Hoof-Care Summit. This item is condensed from an article she wrote entitled, “Balanced Rations are Essential for More Hoof Growth” that appeared in the May/June 2011 issue of American Farriers Journal.

Click here to read part 1 of the May 15, 2021 installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: How can I avoid the potential problems due to pasture-associated laminitis? Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.