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 1 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: Why are vitamin E and selenium needed for hoof growth?

By Buck McColl, Mobile Milling

A: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is very important in muscle structure, which is directly related to hoof movement and also in the health of the reproductive system. Vitamin E is usually supplemented in the equine diet along with selenium, since the two work together in the metabolic process. In fact, many animal health manufacturers sell a vitamin E/selenium combination dietary supplement.

Selenium is involved with both vitamin E absorption and retention, which aids in immune system maintenance. Deficiencies of either item in a ration will cause poor quality hooves as well as a rough hair coat and mane, white muscle disease in colts and muscle cramping. When selenium is deficient there may also be a degeneration of the heart muscle, nursing problems, dummy foals and symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

A lack of selenium in the diet causes dry, cracking and/or thin hoof walls, which become crumbly and will not hold shoes well. Low conception rates, the inability to maintain pregnancy, low libido and weak estrus cycles in mares as well as low sperm count in stallions may also be due to low selenium levels.

The vitamin E/selenium combination is required for the normal production of the antioxidant enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, which helps maintain the immune system. It also protects muscles from oxidative damage.

Selenium levels in equine diets are highly regulated in commercial feeds and supplements. However, horse owners must be careful not to over-feed selenium.

My suggestion for your footcare clients is to provide horses with a good quality vitamin/mineral supplement. They need to recognize that a non-supplemented diet of oats and hay will be deficient in crude protein, calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, selenium, iodine, vitamins A, D and E as well as the amino acid, lysine, along with a host of other micronutrients.

Email me at buckmccoll@northstate.net to receive a free copy of the booklet, Nutrition And The Hoof. This helpful booklet will assist your clients in making the appropriate decisions on how to choose an equine supplement and how to evaluate the ingredients shown on feed tags and supplement labels. The booklet is also posted online.

Equine Supplements & Nutraceuticals, Dr. Eleanor Kellen, VMD.
Nutrition and the Hoof, Buck McColl.
NCCES NCSU Horse Nutrition Manual, Fourth edition, 1997.
Animal Feeding and Nutrition, Seventh edition, 1993. Marshall H. Jurgens, ISU Kendal/Hunt Publishing Co.

Buck McColl is an equine nutritionist with Mobile Milling Co. in Thomasville, N.C. He makes presentations each year 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). 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 May 1, 2015 installment: How can owners avoid laminitis concerns when turning horses out on spring pasture?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.