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  • Verna Lum

Hoof Health - sometimes less is more...

Updated: Sep 13, 2018


Nothing can replace a properly balanced diet in terms of high quality hay that provides our horses with protein and energy requirements for optimal training and performance, tissue repair, healthy neurological and digestive health.

No doubt, no foot no horse and we’ve all been there.


Many nutrients will impact strong healthy hooves; however, over supplementation can sometimes do more damage than good. Inadequate calcium and sulfur levels can reduce the production of keratin, one major structural protein in hooves, resulting in weak hoof walls unable to stand up to everyday pressures of daily work.


However, excess sulfur (>1.25% mg/kg) which can result by over supplementation of MSM, can also contribute to poor hoof quality, because of sulfur's interference with copper metabolism, compromising connective tissue structure and hoof quality. Excess calcium will also compete and reduce the absorption of zinc, copper and iron.


Selenium is an important mineral with powerful antioxidant properties for cellular protection. It is often fed along with Vitamin E to help prevent "tying up and excess levels can contribute to poor keratinization and hoof quality, resulting in a condition called “Alkali Disease” . Horses will have tender and soft soles; hooves chip easily, possible cracks around the coronet band, hair loss, joint erosion, lameness and at risk to develop White Line Disease.


Selenium has a very narrow range of safety

(1-3mg/day is safe, chronic levels of 5-10mg/day are symptomatic for selenium toxicity)

The NRC states that for an average 1100 lb horse in light work, 1/mg per day is adequate. Horses in work would require 2.5-3 mg per day. Depending on work load intensity, environment and soil conditions, sub acute selenium toxicity symptoms can occur with chronic levels 5-10 mg per day, with toxic levels developing at 20 mg /day.


Supplements are a great addition to any feed program, but it is time well spent to ensure

these supplements are balanced to avoid any excesses because more is not always better.


For more information please visit us at vlequineperformance.com. We can do farm visits or online nutritional consultations



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