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 is the critical role of keratin and the development of hoof integrity in hoof nutrition?

By Connie Larson

A: Providing a proper nutrient supply to the all-important keratin-forming cells in the hoof is essential for hoof quality and function. Importantly, keratin provides both strength and flexibility to the hoof through its role as a structural component of the hoof capsule. These proteins are an important factor for supporting adequate keratin synthesis in the cells and subsequent events needed to produce hoof wall.

Due to continuous wear on the outer tissues of the hoof capsule, there has to be a continuous process of replicating new cells. Whenever nutrition to these keratin-forming cells is compromised, either due to a nutrient deficiency or an imbalance caused by overfeeding one or more nutrients, there is the potential for the development of inferior tissue being produced in the hoof.

Tissue produced under these unfavorable circumstances can increase the potential for thin walls, thin soles, hoof cracking, hoof wall flaking, disrupted growth patterns in the hoof capsule and lameness concerns.

When it comes to feeding specific nutrients for healing and repairing hoof injuries, improving poor quality hooves and maintaining good tissue integrity in the hoof is essential. It all starts with a balanced diet that includes the adequate intake of protein, energy, vitamins, minerals and water. However, most nutritionists agree that protein quality, trace minerals and vitamins are the nutrients that are most likely to have an impact on the keratin-forming cells.

Dr. Connie Larson is a research nutritionist specializing in the equine field with the Zinpro Corporation in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine). Absorbine

Like many significant achievements, Absorbine® grew out of humble beginnings—and through the tenacity of someone willing to question the status quo. In this case, it was a young woman in late 19th-century Massachusetts: Mary Ida Young. Her husband, Wilbur Fenelon Young, was an enterprising piano deliveryman who relied on the couple’s team of horses to make deliveries throughout the Northeast. Inspired by Mary Ida and Wilbur’s vision, Absorbine® has continued to add innovative products throughout the years — products used every day by horse owners around the world. Which is why, since 1892, we’ve been The Horse World’s Most Trusted Name®.

Click here to read Part 1 of the March 15, 2015 installment: What is the impact of an overweight horse on the hoof?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.