Cracked brittle feet can easily result in lost shoes, unsoundness and bruised soles, so it’s important that we maintain good hoof condition and for those prone to poor feet the only way to effectively do that is to feed for strong hooves.

What should you look for in feed?

Biotin

A water soluble vitamin, Biotin is the best known nutrient for joints. Biotin is already present in the hind gut of the horse, as it is naturally synthesised by the microbiota. It can also be found in forage, particularly fresh grass. So a deficiency in biotin is unlikely to be found in in grazing horses with healthy guts.

Sulphur

To support the role of biotin hoof products will have sulphur rich nutrients added to them, these include amino acids, methionine and cysteine. These nutrients are added because sulphur is a key nutrient for both horn and keratin production. MSM (Methyl sulphonyl methane) is a great source of bioavailable sulphur, and definitely one to look out for in any good hoof product.

Both zinc and manganese, are also important minerals to look for when choosing a hoof product.

The Holistic Approach

Products that take a more holistic approach to maintain healthy hooves, work on the basis of general horse health. The hooves are part of the largest organ in the body the ‘dermis’, so look for supplements such as those including herbs for health, as these will support the whole horse not just their hooves.

Patience and Time!

Of course the last thing we all need when feeding for hoof health, is that most elusive of ingredients – patience! Just remember when feeding hooves we do need to commit to supplementing for nine to twelve months for full hoof growth.

Source: Kate Hore RNutr(Animal) . Snr Nutritionist at NAF - 'Healthy Hooves' 2018