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: When a horse’s feed intake is restricted, will it have an impact on hoof quality?
By E.A. Ott
A: A review of the research literature indicates that when limiting feed intake restricts hoof growth with ponies, it leads to a higher concentration of zinc in the hoof wall. However, there was little impact on either hoof compression strength or elasticity.
This suggests that when hoof growth is maximized, the hoof’s mineral content may be reduced due to the limited availability of the mineral at the site of synthesis. As a result, chelated minerals may have been more efficient in meeting the needs of the rapidly growing hoof. There was also little effect on hoof composition, except that the zinc content of the restricted group was higher than the ad libitum group.
There is some evidence that the faster the hoof grows, the lower its zinc content. If zinc is a key element in hoof quality, then rapid hoof growth may be detrimental to hoof quality.
In a study with 4- to 10-year-old pregnant mares, no differences in hoof growth rate, hoof hardness or tensile strength were detected when different trace mineral formulations were fed. Manganese, zinc and copper in the hoof wall were not influenced by diet.
The difference between these two experiments may be due to the age of the animals. Growing animals are key to exhibiting a greater demand on those nutrients needed for growth and may not have the option of providing extra minerals for hoof development.
E.A. Ott is an equine nutritionist at the University of Florida.
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 October 1, 2015 installment: Do horse owners need to be concerned about the possibility of poor hoof quality and growth when certain minerals are missing from the diet?