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: Are fever and stress rings in the hoof due to nutritional changes?

By Julie Davis, DVM, and Richard Mansmann, VMD

A: If mild rings are present on all four feet, they’re probably related to nutritional changes. The hoof is a complex and sensitive structure that responds to changes in a horse’s environment, health and nutrition.

The keratinized surface of the hoof wall consists of vertical growing tubules that form at the coronary band and grow down to the ground. The laminae and the soft tissues that the tubules suspend inside the hoof wall contain a web of blood vessels that produce nourishment to the hoof. In addition, they provide moisture and an entrance pathway for inflammatory cells.

Nutrition may also be reflected in the hoof wall as nutrients help regular hoof growth. Sudden changes in the diet can affect the gastrointestinal tract by encouraging some bacteria to grow while inhibiting the growth of others. A change in the horse’s gut environment may cause an episode of systemic change that incites laminar hyperplasic and/or a change in the hoof growth rate. This can result in the formation of raised rings in the hoof wall.

If a sudden change in diet also brings a sudden increase in the horse’s bodyweight, buckling of the tubules may contribute to the development of these hoof rings.

Julie Davis is a graduate of the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine and equine veterinarian Richard Mansmann is a professor emeritus in podiatry and rehabilitation in the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University.

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 April 1, 2015 installment: Can Excess Dietary Salt Affect Hoof Quality?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.