Hoof Growth and the Importance of Hoof Supplements

Are you aware of the saying “sno foot - no horse”? The majority of lameness problems in horses begin with the feet. When a horse has problems with its feet, it is typically painful and reduces the animal’s ability to work. You need to try and keep your horse on a regimented hoof supplement schedule as well as check all four hooves daily; this includes picking them out, looking for injuries, and checking that the shoes are not loose. The feet must be checked regularly by a farrier and trimmed if necessary. If a shoe comes off, arrange for a farrier to visit as soon as possible. You also want to be aware of factors that affect the healthy growth of hooves. After all, the needs of the foot are separate from the rest of the body.

Hoof growth is influenced by a number of different factors, including but not limited to breed, genetics, metabolic rate, exercise, external temperature, environmental moisture, trimming, and shoeing. Nutritional influences include protein and amino acids, calcium, phosphorous, zinc, protein and vitamins like biotin and vitamin A. Even though most poor feet are hereditary or simply bad mechanics, there is substantial proof that many hoof related problems can be solved with good nutrition through a balanced diet and supplements like Horse Health® Joint Combo Hoof& Coat or Farnam® Horseshoer's Secret®. Adequate nutrition is a necessary building block for healthy hooves.

The hoof needs certain basic ingredients for healthy, normal growth. Here are some of the essential factors that influence hoof growth:

  • Proteins- Energy or calorie content of your animal’s feed has an impact on hoof growth. Research has discovered that lower calorie diets lead to reduced weight gain as well as slower hoof growth. A protein deficiency sometimes has the same effect as an energy deficiency since hoof structure is primarily the protein keratin.
  • Fats- Fats are necessary to create a permeability barrier within the hoof. This helps with cell to cell adhesion; fats also help with the prevention of bacteria and fungi from penetrating the horn. Diets and supplements containing ample amounts of fat can be beneficial to health hoof growth.
  • Minerals- A proper balance of minerals is extremely influential to hoof growth. Horses with insufficient strength in the horn had less zinc and plasma than did horses with no hoof horn damage. Calcium and phosphorus, along with the ratio of one to the other, plays a role in proper hoof development.
  • Vitamins- The most researched and studied nutrient related to hoof growth is biotin. This vitamin works to help cement cells together-and keep them together. Horses naturally get it from grazing on good quality pasture, but sometimes poor feed or growth in the pasture can reduce the amount of this vitamin your horse is receiving. It is recommended biotin supplements, like For-A-Flex� Biotin Formula, be made part of your horse's daily feed schedule.

Hoof health is the product of hours of hard work and due diligence; nutrition is just one part. The care of a horse's hooves can help with improved health and performance.

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