The hoof is put under a lot of different stresses and strains throughout a horse’s life. One major influencing factor on hoof health is the environment. Each year, as we swing between a warm, dry summer to a wet, cold winter, the hooves are likely to suffer.
Over winter, the cold, wet conditions are not the only thing putting strain on the hooves. During winter, the forage we give to our horses is a lot less nutritious than that given during summer and spring, because of this, horses can start to become deficient in key vitamins and minerals – especially if their feed is not balanced.
It is not just nutrition and environment that affect hoof health, other influencing factors include; poor conformation, horses being kept without shoes and horses with a predisposition to hoof problems. All these factors put extra stresses and strains on the hooves and can lead to cracks and damage.
Unfortunately, we can’t change the weather, or a horse’s genetics, but we can change their diet. This is why one of the best ways to deal with those troublesome crumbly hooves is to make sure your horse gets the nutritional essentials from their diet – if not, supplement!
Essential Nutrition for Healthy Hooves
Certain nutrients are key for ensuring that your horse has strong and healthy hooves. If you find that your horse’s hooves are becoming cracked or crumbling, they may be suffering from a nutritional deficiency.
By supplementing your horse with any nutrients they may be deficient in, you can be sure that the new horn growth will be much stronger and less susceptible to cracking and crumbling. New horn growth is often slow however, for example it can take a month or two before you will notice any real improvement. It can take up to 9 months for the hoof to completely replace itself!
Key nutrients required by the hoof include:
- Methionine – An amino acid essential for the production of cysteine and keratin. Keratin is the protein responsible for ensuring hoof strength
- Lysine – Also an amino acid, lysine is required for the production of multiple strengthening proteins such as elastin and collagen
- Calcium – A macronutrient that increases the number of sulphur cross-links between keratin in the hoof. These sulphur cross-links help to strengthen keratin (and thus the hoof) further
- Magnesium – A macronutrient which increases the uptake of calcium
- Zinc & Copper – Responsible for forming metalloproteins i.e. proteins with a metal atom at their core. These metalloproteins derived from zinc and copper form over 200 enzymes, many involved in maintaining hoof structural integrity e.g.; Stimulating cell growth, aiding keratin production, producing new/healthy horn tissue and increasing keratin sulphur bride links
- Biotin – Also known as vitamin B7, biotin optimises the process of keratin production
You may have noticed that the majority of these nutrients help increase the amount of keratin available. This is because keratin is an essential structural protein – a key component of maintaining hoof strength.
Biotin in the Diet
Biotin is a B vitamin (B7), which is not stored by the body. Because biotin is not stored, it must be consumed in the diet everyday.
Horses can produce low levels of biotin, enough to just meet their recommended daily allowance of around 1-2mg per day. Horses that consume more than this however, will benefit from the positive effect biotin has on keratin production.
Levels of 15-20mg of biotin per day have been shown to have a positive effect on hoof growth.
Why Biotin is is Important
Biotin plays an important role in the production of keratin, by supplementing additional biotin to a horse’s diet, we can essentially increase the amount of keratin produced by the body. Biotin optimises the production of keratin and the process of keratinisation. Keratinisation is the process of producing strong fibrous proteins to create tough structures (such as hooves).
So essentially, by providing a horse with additional biotin in the diet, we can make sure that the hooves have everything they need to grow strong and healthy – without needing to worry about cracking or crumbling!
How Platform® Can Help
Platform®, part of the Day, Son & Hewitt lineup, is a hoof supplement of superior formulation that supplies the nutrients needed to support strong, resilient, hoof growth.
Platform® contains 25mg of biotin, an optimum level to aid keratin production and support strong new hoof growth. Platform® is available as a 30-day supply, in individually packaged sachets for easy dosage and minimum wastage. You can purchase Platform® here.