It’s winter time and hooves are growing slowly. How can you get hooves to grow faster?
There are speciﬁc strategies that you can adopt to increase the rate of hoof growth. This two-part series will cover some of these strategies. This week, we’ll discuss the role of nutrition and supplements to stimulate hoof growth. Next week, we’ll cover other strategies, such as trim, exercise, and environment.
Nutritional strategies for increased hoof growth:
➡ Protein. Good hoof quality and growth starts with adequate protein. Keys to adequate protein are the top 3 limiting amino acids. It has been known that lysine is a limiting amino acid. This means that the horse is unable to utilize all of the protein available in their feed if the limiting amino acids are insuﬃcient.
➡ Methionine is another limiting amino acid in the horse. This is especially important because methionine is a sulfur containing amino acid. In the past, pollution (in the form of sulfur dioxide) would ensure that there were suﬃcient amounts of sulfur in the soils. Since pollution controls have been implemented, we are increasingly seeing a sulfur deficiency in our hays (which would also mean a decrease in the amount in our pastures). The importance of this your horse may need more methionine, when he/she never needed it before.
➡ Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin. Previous research has shown that biotin supplementation may increase hoof growth by up to 15%. It has an important role in keratin production, which makes up a signiﬁcant amount of the hoof wall. If biotin is not present at adequate levels in the diet, hoof growth will suﬀer.
➡ Minerals, such as copper and zinc, are important. One thing to keep in mind about copper and zinc levels is that they compete for transporter binding sites with iron for absorption. This knowledge is important because high iron feeds can cause a relative deﬁciency of copper and zinc, even if the actual numbers for the copper and zinc appear to be adequate.
➡ MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) can aid in hoof growth, especially if the horse is deﬁcient in sulfur. MSM is also a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
➡ To support the fatty acid needs of the newly forming hoof, ground ﬂaxseed or other source of omega 3 can be beneficial. There are many ways that you can add the omega 3’s to your horse’s diet. You can grind the flaxseed using a coffee grinder. You can purchase ground flax seed. Or, you can use an oil high in omega 3’s.
➡ Jiaogulan for increase hoof growth. Jiaogulan works by increasing the amount of nitric oxide to the linings of the blood vessels to the hooves. People report that their horse’s hoof growth increased dramatically upon the addition of jiaogulan. AAKG (arginine alpha ketoglutarate) is important to supply the substrate for this to occur. During periods of very active growth, many horses find that AAKG helps the effects of jiaogulan.
Although hoof growth takes a long time, there are clearly things we can do to help stimulate growth. We try to do the best that we can possibly do for our horses.
Next week: How to increase hoof growth, part 2, which will incorporate additional strategies for increasing hoof growth.