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: I know selenium is essential for hoof growth, but how do I know if my horses are receiving the proper amount?

By The Laminits Site

A: This diet information from the United Kingdom is designed to be a general guide to feeding a laminitic horse and diet. It should be discussed in detail with an equine veterinarian and/or nutritionist.

As an emergency diet, consider the following guidelines.

With hay, feed approximately 1.5% to 2% of the horse’s bodyweight, depending on whether weight loss is needed (1.5%) or not (2%). Soak the hay for at least 1 hour and drain the water to reduce sugars, or have the hay analyzed to show the combined sugar and starch level is no more than 10%.

Offer a mineral supplement or balancer, ideally with the combined levels of sugar and starch making up no more than 10%. It should also contain good levels of zinc (400 mg), copper (100 mg) and selenium (1 mg). The figures in brackets represent the National Research Council daily requirements for horses.

With vitamin E, feed approximately 300-400 IU/100 per kilogram of bodyweight. Check the amount available in a mineral supplement/balancer and add more if necessary. Human vitamin E capsules can be added to the feed if necessary.

The total daily salt requirements are 25 grams per 500 kilograms of bodyweight with a horse that is not being worked. Check the amount of salt and sodium in the rest of the diet and add more if necessary. Plain table salt can be used.

Micronized linseed may be fed to provide essential fatty acids and meet omega 3 needs at the rate of 50 to 100 grams. This may be added to the diet later. 

Do not feed grass, cereals (oats, barley, corn) or bagged feeds containing cereals or molasses that have combined sugar and starch levels that exceed 10%.

Never starve a horse with laminitis, as this can cause hyperlipaemia (which has a high fatality rate) particularly in pony, donkey and miniature horse breeds. 

In the recovery and maintenance stage of laminitis, the horse’s diet needs to provide all essential nutrients, such as energy, protein (amino acids), minerals, vitamins and essential fatty acids, along with needed amounts of water. Diets for horses with laminitis/EMS/PPID will usually be based on low energy, low sugar and starch levels, and high fiber forage with nutrients targeted to meet deficiencies in the forage, identified by forage analysis.

The diet will depend primarily on whether:

  • The horse needs to lose, gain or maintain weight. Horses that need to gain weight need more energy provided by their diet while horses that need to lose weight need less. 

  • The horse has insulin dysregulation such as with EMS or endocrine laminitis. These horses may need to have combined sugar and starch levels kept below 10% and ideally have any sugar and starch in the diet fed throughout the day to prevent insulin peaks. Insulin levels should be monitored to assess insulin resistance and laminitis risk. The insulin results will also dictate how much, if any, grass the horse can have. 

  • The horse has PPID. A horse with PPID may need higher levels of nutrients, especially protein if muscle loss is an issue, and should probably be fed at least high maintenance levels if not being worked. Some experts recommend feeding good levels of antioxidants to horses with PPID, including vitamin E, zinc, copper and selenium. 

Located in Great Britain, The Laminitis Site is operated by Andrea Jones, her husband Martin Lefley and Pat Lang. Jones works full-time in the fields of equine laminitis and nutrition. A registered charitable organization, it is assisted by veterinarians, researchers and hoof-care experts from around the world with first-hand experiences with laminitis.

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 November 15, 2016 installment: I know selenium is essential for hoof growth, but how do I know if my horses are receiving the proper amount?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.