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: How important is protein in growing quality hooves?

By Connie Larson, PhD

A: Proteins are composed of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. In the horse’s body, amino acids are the major components of muscle, enzymes and many hormones.

Factors influencing dietary protein requirements are growth, physiological state (gestation, lactation and breeding), workload, protein quality (amino acid profile) in the feed and digestibility of the protein source. Vegetable protein sources (soybean meal and cottonseed meal) are most commonly used in equine feeds.

Through the digestive process, proteins are broken down into individual amino acids, dipeptides (two amino acids linked together) or other short polypeptide chains.

Numerous hoof components rely on protein to provide structural strength and function. This includes collagen in the dermal tissue and keratins and cell envelope proteins in the hoof wall.

Epidermal cells produce three protein groups: keratin, keratin-associated proteins and cell envelope proteins. Adequate amino acid levels need to be supplied to the cells producing these proteins because they are essential to the integrity of fully cornified epidermal cells.

Connie Larson is an equine nutritionist and researcher with Zinpro Corp. in Eden Prairie, Minn. She has been a frequently contributor to American Farriers Journal and a speaker at the International Hoof-Care Summit.

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 1 of the October 1, 2016 installment: One of my horses has shelly hooves. Can this be a nutritional concern?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.