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 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.
Q: Why do horses need phosphorus in their diet?
By Ashley Fowler
A: The phosphorus (P) found in bones not only provides structural support for the skeleton, but it also acts as a P reserve for other bodily functions. This mineral is important in cell membranes, in reactions requiring cellular energy, helps form the backbone of DNA and contributes to the pH and electrolyte balance in body fluids.
Dietary P is found in forages, oats, corn and soybean meal. The P found naturally in grains and forages is considered organic while feed manufacturers might add inorganic P to commercial horse feeds. These inorganic phosphates come from mining and processing rock phosphate and are often listed on a feed label as monosodium phosphate; mono-, di-, and tri-calcium phosphate; or defluorinated phosphate.
Research conducted in the 1970s concluded that horses could not absorb the P from grains and grain byproducts as effectively as they could P from inorganic sources. As a result, feed manufacturers began adding inorganic phosphate to horse concentrates.
Results from a recent study conducted at the University of Kentucky has challenged the belief that horses cannot efficiently utilize organic sources of P. In the study, a group of yearlings and a group of mature horses consumed a diet consisting of forage and a pelleted concentrate formulated to meet daily recommended P intakes with only the organic P found in the feed. Researchers found horses were able to digest and absorb enough P to meet their needs without the addition of dietary inorganic P.
Based on this research, it appears that mature and growing horses can be fed diets without added inorganic P. However, more research is needed to examine whether horses with relatively high requirements truly need inorganic P added to their diets.
Ashley Fowler is a graduate student in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at the University of Kentucky.
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 1 of the May 1, 2016 installment: How important is hoof nutrition in dealing with a seedy toe situation?