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: Is it OK to feed bran to horses with poor hooves?

By Frank Gravlee, DM, MS, CNS and Scott Gravlee, DVM

Bran should not be fed to horses with poor hoof quality. Bran and other hull materials of grain contain phytates, which are high in phosphorus and can block the absorption of calcium and other minerals in the small intestine. This can create the low calcium levels that are detrimental to hoof conditions. 

Research from Susan Kempson has demonstrated the ultra structural changes to the hoof wall that are caused by calcium deficiency related to the feeding of bran to the adult horse. The hoof researcher and staff member of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at Summerhall in Edinburgh, Scotland, says one of the best ways to improve both calcium and phosphorus levels in a horse’s diet is to eliminate bran completely from the ration and reduce the amount of grain being fed. Both ingredients can be replaced with alfalfa, which is high in protein and calcium, yet low in phosphorous.

Frank Gravlee is an equine veterinarian and the founder of Life Data Labs, Inc., in Cherokee, Ala. H. Scott Gravlee, DVM, is an equine nutrition consultant with Life Data Labs.

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 February 15, 2017 installment: Does the fat content of a ration play any role in hoof quality and growth?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.