Biotin and the Hoof: The Continuing Controversy

Some researchers say supplementation isn’t needed, but others remain believers in the B vitamin’s benefits

PLENTY OF ROUGHAGE. Some equine nutritionist says an otherwise healthy horse receiving a properly balanced diet has no need for supplemental biotin.

Of all the studies conducted on the correlation between nutrition and the hoof, the role of biotin, a water-soluble vitamin within the B group, has been a central focus time and again. While it is generally acknowledged that biotin is a significant component to the growth process, there is little consensus on exactly how the role its role plays out.

Since researchers have not able to pinpoint why some horses respond to biotin supplementation and others do not, the main controversy lies in whether biotin is an effective solution when administered as a single-source supplement. Despite the confusion resulting from conflicting reports, the diets of a great number of horses still continue to be supplemented with biotin in hopes that they will be among the fortunate ones to realize increased hoof growth and quality.

Biotin In The System

As biotin is produced naturally in the cecum or hindgut, some experts believe that unless there is a disturbance in the micro-flora due to a variety of conditions from stress to surgery, there is no need for additional supplementation.

Biotin supporters speculate that the biotin in the hindgut may not be absorbed efficiently and that biotin has a better chance of being absorbed as a supplement in the upper portion of the digestive tract.

Susan Kempson, of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, writes that…

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Toby Raymond

Toby Raymond is a horse owner and freelance writer who lives in Vermont. She is a frequent contributor to American Farriers Journal.

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