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Proper Nutrition is Critical for High Quality Hooves

Since weakness, defects or nutrient deficiencies show up quickly, the hoof is a highly reliable indicator of a horse's health


30 YEARS OF NUTRITIONAL DATA. Frank Gravlee shows American Farriers Journal Advertising Manager Alice Musser a portion of extensive handwritten notes that that include plenty of nutritional test data from more than 300 horses.

When improperly fed horses suffer from poor quality feet, it’s often difficult to pinpoint the exact dietary cause, says Frank Gravlee. It usually means the horse isn’t eating the proper nutrients, can’t sufficiently absorb some needed nutrients or has a dietary factor interfering with nutrient utilization, explains the equine veterinarian and researcher with Life Data Labs in Cherokee, Ala.

Over the past three decades, Gravlee has gathered extensive nutrition and laboratory test data on more than 300 horses. His goal was to determine equine nutritional deficiencies by performing a variety of laboratory tests and then using the data to develop individualized feeding programs to correct nutrient deficiencies or excesses.

As many as 200 tests — including blood hematology, red cell counts, mineral levels and vitamin content — have been analyzed from blood samples drawn from these horses.

Once the test results are analyzed, a computerized feed balancing program is used to adjust specific nutrients.

“We’re optimizing the ration for the best fit for nutrient requirements rather than feed costs,” he says. “With our plant’s milling expertise and equipment, we can mix as little as 250 pounds of a supplement for each horse, vacuum pack it in a nitrogen fresh bag and have it stay fresh until the day that it is fed.

“From these tests, we’ve…

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Frank_lessiter

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has spent more than 50 years in the agricultural and equine publishing business. The sixth generation member to live on the family’s Centennial farm in Michigan, he is the Editor/Publisher of American Farriers Journal.

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