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 1 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: What role do trace minerals play in a horse’s nutrition, health and growth?

By Emily Dickson

A: Minerals are the backbone of the horse’s body, making up every organ, tissue and cell. They play a role in every single body system, from skeletal and muscular development to nervous system function, hair and hoof health.

While only present in very small quantities in a bag of feed, minerals are crucially important for every horse’s overall performance.

Trace minerals make up a very tiny percentage of a horse’s daily intake, which is why their bioavailability is so important. This availability has to do with the rate in which they are absorbed and utilized in the body.

Organic trace minerals (such as zinc, copper, cobalt and manganese) are both absorbed at higher levels and are more readily utilized by the horse because they are presented in a form that mimics the form in which minerals are found in nature.

When reading a feed tag, organic minerals will be listed as the mineral name, followed by the word “proteinate,” “methionine” or “amino acid complex.”

You can easily spot inorganic minerals because they will be listed as the mineral name followed by the word “oxide” or “sulfate.” For instance, the ingredient “zinc oxide” is an inorganic version of this trace mineral, which is both cheaper and less conducive for optimal horse health and performance.

Make sure you read the feed tag to check the feed’s trace mineral status. Ideally, choose a feed that contains 100% organic zinc, copper, cobalt and manganese.

Emily Dickson is the lifestyle marketing manager for Alltech, with company headquarters based in Nicholasville, Ky.

Click here to read part 2 of the July 8, 2021, installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: Can horses eating poisonous plants lead to serious hoof concerns? Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.