Recognizing Nutrition Related Hoof Problems
I have worked with horses suffering from mild to serious hoof problems for the past 40 years. During that time I have determined that horses with hoof problems often are deficient in many nutrients that negatively affect changes in the dermal tissue structure. The hoof is dermal tissue and the hoof shows weakness more quickly than other dermal tissue structures due to its function and location. The horse owner should be able to recognize a few of the nutritional concerns that can occur in the hoof:
- Feeding excessive amounts of bran can produce poor hoof quality by inhibiting calcium absorption. Bran contains phytate which is high in phosphorus. The excess amount of phosphorus blocks calcium absorption in the small intestine creating a calcium deficiency. Often, the result is a crumbling hoof.
- A zinc deficiency can sometimes lead to rapid hoof growth. The deficiency can result in poor quality keratin in the outer layers of the hoof wall and make the wall brittle. Some horses with a zinc deficiency need their hooves trimmed every 10-14 days.
- A biotin deficiency is rare however; when it does occur one will likely see thick layers of hardened tissue ‘peeling off’ the hoof much like the peeled layers of an onion. Other dietary deficiencies usually accompany a biotin deficiency.
- Hair-like projections emerging from the hoof wall or the sole of a horses hoof can indicate either a Vitamin A excess or a Vitamin A deficiency.
In addition to the above there are many more ‘nutritional red flags’ too numerous to list here. Seek sound nutrition information and become a ‘better horse owner’ by becoming a ‘better informed horse owner’.
J. Frank Gravlee, DVM, MS, CNS
Founder of Life Data Labs, Inc.
Developer of Farrier’s Formula®