The equine hoof is a complex structure made up of different parts with different functions and purposes. One thing is known for sure and that is the importance of healthy hooves. Many of you will be aware of the old adage no hoof, no horse and as simple as this saying is, it is of great value.In the horse, hoof quality depends on many different factors, some of which are pre-determined such as age, breed, genetics and conformation. These factors cannot be altered, however, there are factors that can, such as nutrition. Nutrition can play a huge role in developing sound and healthy hooves, which, as we all know are essential to a sound and healthy horse.
There are many nutrients involved in improved hoof quality and growth such as Protein/Amino Acids, Fats, Sulfur, Calcium, Zinc, Copper, Selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Biotin. Therefore, whenever a hoof-quality problem arises, it could be nutrition induced, and one should begin evaluating the above nutrients. A deficiency in any of these top 10 nutrients can cause a weakening of the hoof structure and can affect the quality and strength of the hoof wall, which can in turn hamper the athletic performance of the horse. It is important to remember that amino acids, in particular methionine, make up a large percentage of the hoof’s structure. In fact, is has been estimated that over 90% of the hoof wall is made of proteins.[vc_single_image image=”19570″ img_size=”full”]Cystine, phenylalanine, and proline have also been shown to be important amino acids for hoof structure. Fat also makes up a good portion of the hoof structure. Biotin, which gets a great deal of publicity when it comes to hoof growth, is one of the top 10 nutrients but is ranked in 10th place with nine other nutrients having larger factors on hoof quality than biotin. This highlights the need for a well-balanced diet. All nutrients have their functions and it is important to maintain a correct balance of each.
Meeting energy requirements with a well-balanced diet is critical when considering hoof health. It is important to keep in mind that it can take months after a dietary change to notice results of that change in the hoof. Making nutritional adjustments to improve the quality of the hoof is not an overnight fix but is a step in the right direction.
Learn more about Plusvital’s rich source of Biotin, Amino Acids and minerals for strong and healthy hooves, Acti-Hoof, here or Plusvital’s unique blend of oils and resins designed to maintain hoof structure and flexibility, Hoofcare, here.