Welcome to the inaugural edition of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence, which is a new addition to the American Farriers Journal website. With proper hoof nutrition as the theme, we’re adding to the education of footcare professionals by introducing this twice-a-month web segment that will feature in-depth material on 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. Be sure to look for this new educational approach to improving hoof quality and growth twice each month here on the American Farriers Journal website.
Q: Why are supplemental amino acids needed in the equine diet when it comes to quality hoof care?
By Buck McColl, Mobile Milling
A: Hoof health is directly related to diet, with many dietary factors involved in good hoof health. The ingredients in the diet are inter-related (synergistic).
An improper balance of ingredients can cause problems in hoof growth and integrity. Sulfur-bearing amino acids are a very important part of hoof health because hooves contain high levels of protein.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and there are two basic types of amino acids — essential and non-essential.
There are 10 essential amino acids that must be provided in the equine diet or be synthesized by microorganisms within the digestive tract. This is the horse’s body area where plant proteins are broken down into amino acids, which are used to build animal protein.
Some amino acids are easily bonded (chelated) to minerals. This process allows easy passage through the intestinal wall into the blood stream, which results in increased metabolism of that mineral.
Methionine and lysine are two of the most important sulfur-bearing amino acids affecting hoof health.
Methionine is a sulfur-bearing amino acid, which makes it an essential source of sulfur for the body. Methionine is important in protein metabolism, the generation of energy and the maintenance of normal skin, hooves, tendons, ligaments and cartilage.
Lysine is another sulfur-bearing amino acid that is related to calcium absorption and muscle building.
Deficiencies of both of these important amino acids may cause poor hoof integrity, rough hair coat and slow overall growth as well as a low red blood cell count. Recommended levels are 1,500 to 3,000 mg per day for methionine and 1,200 to 2,600 mg per day for lysine.
When making a decision about purchasing or recommending a hoof supplement, urge your clients to be certain that the ingredients are well balanced so as to enhance, rather than interfere with the overall feeding program for their horses.
Encourage your footcare clients to consult an equine nutritionist or a Cooperative Extension Service equine specialist for assistance in making decisions about nutritional supplements.
Buck McColl is an equine nutritionist with Mobile Milling Co in Thomasville, N.C. He makes numerous presentations on the importance of equine nutrition as it relates to quality hoof care to students at a number of North America’s horseshoeing schools.
Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (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 2 of the March 1, 2015 installment: With the hoof deeply involved with laminitis, how should this be taken into consideration when dealing with acute cases of this devastating disease?