A few summers ago Trooper had very cracked hooves. They were so cracked that he couldn't hold a shoe on one of them as there was nowhere to put the nail in. We started giving him supplements for his hooves.
The main component of supplements for hooves is usually biotin. Biotin is also called vitamin B7. This is formed from sulphar and is a component of structural protein keratin. Biotin may not be digestible in some feed sources. Yeast, soya and clover have good levels of biotin in them. 28% of horses in the UK are thought to be deficient. And 15 mg per day is said to be the minimum daily ration (Buffa et al, 1992). But horses are likely to get this from their normal daily rations.
The first supplement we gave him was Formula 4 Feet. Searching on the internet I found this to be a cheaper alternative to Farriers Formula. Although looking at the prices now they seem to be quite similar at around £35 for 5kg so this might have changed. This helped his hooves a lot and after he had been taking it for a reasonable amount of time you could see the difference in the new hoof growing. He had a ridge in his hoof from when we started giving him the supplement and once the ridge had grown out his hooves were much stronger and didn't crack.
Formula 4 Feet is said to provide unique benefits for both horses with poor hoof horn quality, cracked hooves, weak heels and those at risk of laminitis. The ingredients are luncerne meal, minerals and vitamins, dried yeast, beans, soya concentrate, toasted soya beans, vegetable fat, apple flavour and antioxidant E321 (the soya in this product will be the main source of biotin). It is a vegetarian and GM-free supplement. There is a more in depth break down of what is in the feed on their website if anyone is interested. It contains;
- Many micronutrients such as multivitamins, amino acids, and essential fatty acids including omega 3's.
- It provides 20 mg daily of biotin for a 450 kg horse and claims that most studies have found this is the necessary daily amount to achieve consistent improvement.
- Calcium which is important for attachment of hoof horn. It also contains zinc which is important for skin and hoof growth. It contains
- Phospholipids which are vital in keeping the horn free from infections and maintaining a normal water balance.
- No cereals and no added selenium (so no extra carbs for horses at risk of laminitis, and no extra risk of selenium toxicity).
All it says on the container can be seen on the photograph below.
Our tub of Biotin.
Trooper has one scoop of this in his feed per day even though it says two. His hooves have been fine on it, but not as good as on Formula 4 Feet. They have had the odd crack but nothing major and he has had no problems keeping his shoes on. One small point I don't like is that it is a powder and as Trooper has poor breathing I don't like making his feed to dry so I add a bit of water into his feed as well with it.
The biotin powder with the scoop.
Apart from biotin the other ingredients in this supplement are a bit of a mystery. It could just be biotin, but who knows!
There are loads of different biotin supplements on the market and if your horse has poor hooves I would definitely recommend trying one. If I can't get the Robinson's one any more I will let you know which one I get and how it is.