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: Can fever and stress rings on the hoof be due to poor nutrition?
By Melyni Worth
A: The hoof wall continuously grows from the coronary band and laminae. This rate of growth is dependent on the nutritional status of the horse.
As cells are dividing and growing in the hoof, they are drawing nutrients from within the bloodstream. Therefore, if the nutrient levels are low, the hoof growth is stunted. If the nutrient level becomes too low, not only will the horn soften and weaken, but the hoof growth may cease altogether. During this period of nutritional deficiency, the reduction in cell growth can form a “dip” within the hoof wall. For example, this includes horses in the wild that endure a drought, are deprived of proper nutrients, and will develop a weakening in the hoof.
The average internal temperature for a horse is around 100 degrees F. In the instance of a fever, or a period of an internal temperature that is higher than average, the rate of cell growth can increase, causing a thickening in the hoof wall that feels like a raised “ring.” In addition to a spike in the horse’s temperature, the same thickening of the hoof wall can result from a significant nutritional boost. Going back to the example of horses in the wild, this thickening in the hoof wall will more than likely be present with the arrival of a flush of grass in the spring.
Measuring the nutritional status of the horse can be as simple as monitoring the growth rate and quality of the hoof wall that is growing out. Any rings or changes in the hoof wall are an indication that the nutritional plan needs to be reevaluated and adjusted. An astute owner wants to hear from their farrier that the hoof walls are strong, resilient and there are no rings on the hoof. This type of feedback assures the owner that they are correctly meeting the nutritional needs of their horse.
Melyni Worth is the founder, president and director of research and development for Foxden Equine in Stuarts Draft, Va. A native of Great Britain, she has a PhD in equine nutrition and exercise physiology from Virginia Tech.
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 February 1, 2016 installment: Is there any new data dealing with the need for biotin in the hoof?