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.
This edition is sponsored by the W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine) of East Longmeadow, Mass.
Below you will find Part 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.
Q: How important are minerals for improving hoof quality and growth?
By Eleanor Kellon, VMD
The role of minerals really has not been studied in horses, but we do know a few things from studies in cows. For instance, calcium is required for activation of an enzyme called epidermal transglutaminase. This enzyme is involved in the transformation of skin and epithelial cells into the keratinocytes that form the hoof horn. It is also necessary to form crosslinks between keratin fibers.
Hypocalcemia has been suggested as a possible cause for rings that often form in cows’ feet around the time of calving and the start of heavy milk production. Mares that are heavy milkers could also be experiencing some hypocalcemia when they are in early lactation. It’s certainly true that mares often show hoof rings that correspond to foaling and early lactation.
Inadequate dietary calcium would not be expected to cause any effects because the calcium would be mobilized from bone as a way to compensate. Prolonged alkalosis (high blood pH) over at least several days could theoretically reduce calcium availability enough to influence the hoof, such as with a horse being worked heavily every day in hot weather with inadequate chloride intake.
Fluorosis has also been showed to have an impact on the feet. However, the likelihood of a horse having fluoride poisoning is pretty slim, but it does drive home the role that calcium plays in hoof health since the chances of fluoride poisoning are caused by fluoride substituting for calcium.
Dr. Eleanor Kellon, a staff veterinary specialist for Uckele Health & Nutrition, is an established authority in the field of equine nutrition for over 30 years. The owner of Equine Nutritional Solutions in Robesonia, Pa., she is a founding member and leader of the Equine Cushings and Insulin Resistance (ECIR) group, whose mission is to improve the welfare of horses with metabolic disorders via integration of research and real-life clinical experience. Prevention of laminitis is the ultimate goal.
Click here to read Part 1 of the December 15, 2017 installment: Besides care by farriers and veterinarians and regulating the diet, are there other therapies that can help laminitic horses?