Feeding the Laminitis Prone Horse to Promote Healthy Hooves
Article last updated: 22nd September 2020
Good hoof horn quality and growth is important for all horses and ponies, not just those prone to laminitis. Although little evidence exists specifically regarding laminitis, providing nutrients to promote good quality hoof horn makes sense.
What nutrients are important for hoof quality?
The key nutrients required for healthy hooves include biotin, calcium, methionine and zinc and supplying all these nutrients at optimum levels is important for improving hoof quality. Some horses are naturally more susceptible to problem hooves, whilst other horse owners report reduced hoof growth or quality following specific problems such as laminitis.
Before considering the addition of specific nutrients to promote improved hoof quality it is important to ensure that your horse is receiving a balanced diet. The reason for this is that supplying some nutrients in excess of requirements such as zinc and calcium may not actually be beneficial unless an imbalance or deficiency is present.
Although grass and forage can go a long way to meet your laminitis prone horse or pony’s energy requirements, most UK pasture lacks optimal levels of important trace minerals, including zinc which is important for hoof quality. As such if feeding a fibre only ration or less than recommended of a feed with added vitamins and minerals, then top up with a broad-spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement such as Dengie Leisure or Performance Vits & Mins.
Alfalfa for hooves
All of the Dengie fibre feeds contain alfalfa. Research by the Royal Dick Vet School found that including alfalfa in the diet helped to improve the quality and quantity of hoof growth, which is thought to be due to alfalfa’s naturally excellent levels of good quality protein and naturally occurring vitamins and minerals including calcium. With a wide range of feeds, Dengie has a feed suitable for your horse or pony, whatever their needs.
Biotin for healthy hooves
Biotin is a sulphur containing B vitamin essential for cell proliferation and is the most commonly identified nutrient for improving hoof quality. B vitamins are synthesized by micro-organisms in the digestive tract as a by-product of fermentation. In a healthy digestive system, the horse would be expected to produce sufficient biotin to maintain hoof condition. If the supply of fibre is compromised or the environment of the gut is not conducive to allow bacteria to function efficiently, then the production of B vitamins, including biotin, may be compromised. Poor hoof condition can often be a reflection of an unhealthy digestive system.
Numerous studies have tried to identify the level of biotin required to help address poor hoof horn quality and currently 15mg or more of biotin per day is recommended to promote improved hoof horn.
Dengie feeds for healthy hooves
Dengie Healthy Hooves Molasses Free is a nutritionally complete fibre feed that not only provides a broad-spectrum of vitamins and minerals for a balanced diet, but also includes a full range of B vitamins at a level that provides 15mg of Biotin per day for a 500kg horse. Healthy Hooves Molasses Free provides very low levels of sugar and starch at 2.5% and 1.5% respectively, making it suitable for laminitis prone individuals. Healthy Hooves Molasses Free is approved by The Laminitis Trust.