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: Should horse owners be concerned about the amount of iron in their horses’ diet?

By Juliet M. Getty, PhD

A: Are you adding a supplement to your horse’s diet that contains iron?

If your horse is overweight, diagnosed with insulin resistance or suffers from equine Cushing’s disease, here’s a word to the wise: You may want to reconsider giving that supplement. Studies have shown a direct correlation between iron intake and insulin levels in the blood, making it an important factor in managing the diet for these horses.

Iron deficiency anemia is rare and too much iron can potentially lead to laminitis, as well as create an imbalance with other minerals. Furthermore, forages (pasture, hay, hay pellets or cubes) are already high in iron, making supplementation unnecessary and possibly dangerous. To protect your horse, choose a vitamin/mineral supplement that does not include iron and have your hay analyzed.

Calculate the total iron intake in the diet; though an upper tolerable limit for all horses is 500 ppm, it should be far less for sensitive horses. Soaking hay can remove much of the iron, but will also remove other minerals. Balance iron with zinc and copper: iron should not be more than 5 times the level of zinc and the zinc to copper ratio should range from 3:1 to 5:1.

One more comment: Forages grown from acidic soils will be higher in iron. If you grow your own hay, or can discuss this issue with your hay provider, consider increasing the pH of the soil through lime application. 

Juliet M. Getty, PhD is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide U.S. and international following. Located in Lewisville, Texas, her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices. Dr. Getty’s goal is to empower the horse person with the confidence and knowledge to provide the best nutrition for his or her horse’s needs.

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 2 of the October 15, 2016 installment: Do most farriers recommend and sell hoof supplements and other equine products?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.