Feeding for Hoof Health

Hoof quality can be influenced by many factors, such as:

• Genetics
• Farrier work
• Type of environment
• Work intensity
• Microbial invasions
• Nutrition

Farrier with hoofIn this article, we want to focus on the role that nutrition plays in hoof health.

Consider the following scenario, where two horses are:
1. In the same environment and barn
2. Fed the same diet
3. Working at the same level
4. Competing in the same discipline
5. Trimmed by the same Farrier
6. Cared by the same person
However: one has healthy feet, and the other has poor quality hooves.

In the case above, since all factors are the same, we may want to take a closer look at nutrition. Even though both horses are receiving the same diet, their genetic makeup plays a big role in how nutrients are absorbed and utilized.

When horses have poor feet due to dietary factors, it can be hard to determine the exact cause. However, you can assume that your horse is: 

• Not receiving the correct nutrients,
• Not absorbing them sufficiently, or
• Another dietary factor is interfering with nutrient utilization.

It is of great importance to maintain correct ratios between all nutrients to prevent one nutrient from interfering with the absorption and utilization of another. When balancing diets it is just as important to prevent excesses as it is to correct deficiencies.

If a horse is having hoof problems, where should you start?

1. Provide hay and/or pasture as the basic diet
2. Provide a quality hoof supplement
3. Provide free choice loose salt
4. Allow access to fresh clean water

If your horse does have a noticeable hoof problem, and you begin a nutritional program to solve it, you should see a positive difference emerging from the coronary band within 8 to 10 weeks. If not, you should re-examine your nutrition and management program immediately with the help of an equine nutritionist.

Recommended Hoof Supplement: Farrier’s Formula® Double Strength

If a horse is having hoof problems, what should you avoid?

1) Avoid using several supplements
o Most supplements, when fed in conjunction with others can lead to over-supplementation, nutrient interferences and even create toxic levels of some ingested nutrients. Ask your veterinarian if it’s safe to feed one supplement with another.

2) Avoid high bran diets
o Wheat, rice or other grains

3) In the vast majority of cases biotin alone is not enough to correct poor hoof quality.
o There are many other nutrients that affect hoof quality.

The key is fortifying hoof health without producing nutrient excesses or deficiencies. When choosing a hoof supplement, ask your farrier which one does he or she recommends. Chances are, it’ll be Farrier’s Formula®: the #1 recommended hoof supplement by Farriers in the United States.

J. Frank Gravlee, DVM, MS, CNS
Founder of Life Data Labs, Inc.
H. Scott Gravlee, DVM, CNS
Equine Nutrition Consultant

Learn More About Farrier's Formula® Double Strength