Shopping List: Hoof Supplements

Shopping List: Hoof Supplements

This is a short note to summarize the video information on “Selecting a Hoof Supplement”. It is a note that you can refer to when you are in the feed store or shopping on-line and trying to decide which of the many hoof supplements on the market would be a better buy.

There are several questions I think need to be considered before deciding on feeding a hoof supplement.

  1. What do I see on my horse(s) that would suggest a hoof supplement may be helpful?
  2. Has my farrier seen something when trimming or shoeing my horses that he suggested a hoof supplement?
  3. Am I feeding a balanced diet to my horses? Remember, you must feed the whole horse and not just the foot.

If you have answered yes to any of these, then a hoof supplement may be helpful. So, what are some things we want to consider in selecting a quality hoof supplement.

  1. What form of supplement do I want? Hoof supplements are generally either a powder, pellet, or extruded nugget. Pellets are the most common and they minimize sorting of ingredients, although some horse refuse them if they are too hard. Extruded nuggets also minimize sorting, but usually cost more for the same amount of nutrients as pellets due to the cost of production. Again, horses can sort these out and leave them in the feeder. Powders are usually the least expensive given equal nutrient content. Some owners have a bias against powders, and they can be difficult to feed.
  2. Key guaranteed nutrient levels on the feed tag.
    1. Methionine: minimum of 3600 mg/d
    2. Lysine: minimum of 1500 mg/d
    3. Biotin: 20-25 mg/d (higher levels have not shown to be more beneficial in building hooves, and probably excreted in the urine).
    4. Copper: minimum 85 mg/d
    5. Zinc: minimum 250 mg/d
  3. Preferred ingredients.
    1. Soybean meal, soy protein isolate, soy protein, soy lecithin
    2. Alfalfa meal, dehydrated alfalfa leaf meal
    3. Ground flax seed
    4. Stabilized rice bran
    5. Wheat middlings, distillers’ grains
    6. Canola oil, soybean oil, flax oil
    7. Chelated minerals: zinc methionine complex, copper lysine complex, manganese methionine complex

There are some “red flags” in my opinion and some things you do not need to do.

  1. Vegetable oil: this usually means the manufacturer will use what oil is cheaper or a blend of oils. This may easily change the flavor/palatability of the product as well as omega fatty acid ratios.
  2. Very high levels of biotin. Biotin is a water-soluble B-vitamin that is not stored in the body but excreted in the urine if not used. It is also produced in the large intestine of the horse by the bacteria residing there.
  3. No methionine. For hoof strength, methionine is more important that biotin.
  4. Although not a “red flag”, you do NOT need to feed a Loading Dose or feed 2X the normal amount for a given amount of time.

Expect it to take time to make any change in the horse’s feet. It takes about 12 months for the hoof to grow from the coronary band to the ground. You or your farrier may notice improvement earlier but give the supplement time to work.

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