Progress on Hoof Nutrition with NAF ProFeet
I’m sure you have all at some time in the past experienced the frustration of having to a miss a show because your horse has lost a shoe. Poor feet are a common problem. So is it all just down to farriers or can you, as owners, help support strong feet David “Slim” Symons, FWCF Hons, former Head of Farriery at Hereford School of Farriery certainly thinks you can, by providing the optimum diet for strong feet. Slim says “For your farrier to do the best job he can of shoeing your horse, he needs a quality foot to work with. If the diet is lacking the quality of foot is likely to suffer. This is when a correctly formulated feed supplement can be so helpful.”
But with a huge range of products available how do you know you are choosing the right one?
Biotin, one of the B vitamin complexes, is, perhaps, the most important single nutrient in supporting healthy hoof growth. Historically research had showed 15mg daily sufficient for foot growth. But more recently research shows that actually the figure is more likely 15-30mg daily, with the size of the horse being significant. Trials on horses around 450kg found 20mg necessary for healthy feet, while trials on heavy horses needed nearer 30mg per day. With an increasing trend for larger riding horses (600kg+ is not unusual in show horses) it is clear that a good hoof product should be flexible, to provide for all from ponies to Percherons! Ensure the level of biotin in the product you chose suits your horse. As a guide, for a general show hunter type of 15-16.2hh I would recommend 24mg per day for optimum hoof growth.
However it is important to remember that biotin doesn’t work on its own. A product suitable for poor hooves will combine biotin with all other essential nutrients for hoof integrity, including a rich sulphur complex of methione, cysteine and MSM; minerals including calcium and zinc; and a broad spectrum of naturally sourced amino acids and essential fatty acids.
In recent years the role of antioxidants has been highlighted in all health areas, and hoof health is no different. Why should antioxidants be important to the feet? Well the hoof is simply a form of keratin – just like the coat, mane and tail, and together they form the “dermis”. The dermis itself as the largest organ in the body is the first to reflect general health – therefore poor hoof condition is often simply a reflection of a physically stressed system and this is where antioxidants come in. Just as we should eat fruit and vegetables daily to flush out toxins, the same applies to our horses. By choosing a hoof product that supplies a concentrated antioxidant complex you’re taking a holistic approach to foot care – not only using targeted ingredients like biotin, but also supporting whole system health.
Remember the adage “patience is a virtue”! Supplementing for hoof health may take around nine months until a completely healthy foot is seen. However, the beneficial effects of a good product should start to become evident in the new horn growth after about six weeks. Try taking a digital photo each time he’s shod – this should show the progression.
Words supplied by NAF
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