When considering the most critical interactions between nutrients and hoof growth, keep in mind that a balanced delivery of nutrients to meet the overall requirement of the horse is important. Requirements are based on the mature weight, age and performance or production demands for each of your clients’ horses.
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. Equine diet must be evaluated more to determine the interactions between nutrients and growth for the various types of hoof tissues.
One of the areas that needs attention are amino acids - the “building blocks” or individual components of protein. Protein digestion yields amino acids that can be delivered via blood circulation to provide for protein synthesis in the newly formed cells that will become the hoof wall, sole and frog. These cells are transformed into the highly cornified cells that are found in the exterior portions of the hoof.
The first step in this process involves the synthesis of keratin proteins. These keratin proteins in the hoof contribute to both the strength and flexibility required for hoof function.
The hoof must be strong enough to bear the weight of the horse and also offer elasticity to interact with various surfaces. Keratin proteins require sulfur-containing amino acids such as methionine and cysteine. Sulfur is a key component required for the formation of bridges that occur between the proteins to form a mesh-like structure. The structure of these proteins is a major factor contr