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Help with hoof nutrition

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  • Help with hoof nutrition

    I've had my two senior horses since March of this year. They didn't have terrible feet when I got them but they looked great this summer after switching to a nice feed and higher quality hay. Last month (September) I was dealing with health issues and was not spending much time with them and picking their feet maybe once a week (instead of almost daily). My trimmer, who comes every 5 weeks, came out and noted their feet looked bad. I'm doing much better health wise and I'm back to picking hooves daily. Their feet are awful. Thrush in both fronts on one that is so bad on the right we are treating with topical antibiotics (per vet). The other has a chip in two of his feet. They both have separation in the hoof wall.

    Per my trimmer we started adding Zinc and Copper to their feed at the end of August. California Trace is the preferred supplement, but it's so pricey, so the next best option is the Zinc, Copper, and also adding Flax. I just grabbed AniMed's CoMega Supreme to try (has flax with coconut and soybean oil).

    I think we have high iron levels in our water, which could be inhibiting Zinc and Copper absorption? Not sure what I can do about this though.

    I'm not sure if their hoof issues are due to me not picking their feet and also not riding/working them for over a month - OR - due to nutrition - OR - a combo of these?

    I've started working both horses in hand and they are both sound and in good spirits. I just hate the way their feet look and I want to avoid them getting worse.

    They live out in a dry lot pretty much 24/7. They are stalled for feedings or if it's mucky and they need some time to dry out.

  • #2
    Originally posted by gahorseygal View Post
    I've had my two senior horses since March of this year. They didn't have terrible feet when I got them but they looked great this summer after switching to a nice feed and higher quality hay.
    What feed and how much?

    Last month (September) I was dealing with health issues and was not spending much time with them and picking their feet maybe once a week (instead of almost daily). My trimmer, who comes every 5 weeks, came out and noted their feet looked bad. I'm doing much better health wise and I'm back to picking hooves daily. Their feet are awful. Thrush in both fronts on one that is so bad on the right we are treating with topical antibiotics (per vet).
    What are their living conditions? I know some will look at me with all sorts of judgement, but I don't pick out feet every day. Why? Mine are turned out full time, and I am quite ok with feet being packed with dirt. It's rare to pick feet out and find manure trapped against the sole/collateral groove. So, they are not so confined that they are routinely walking in manure. They are barefoot, and their feet regularly shed whatever gets packed in there - lots of "hoof discs" worth of packed clay out in the field sometimes.

    The point of that is - simply not having feet picked out daily is not cause for thrush. What those feet get packed with, and remains packed, is a much bigger issue.

    The other has a chip in two of his feet. They both have separation in the hoof wall.
    This to me says more about the trimming - quality or frequency - and possibly an issue with high sugar (which can be an issue with hay)

    Chipping can be due to long feet - either not trimmed properly each time, or just too long between visits.

    Per my trimmer we started adding Zinc and Copper to their feed at the end of August. California Trace is the preferred supplement, but it's so pricey, so the next best option is the Zinc, Copper, and also adding Flax. I just grabbed AniMed's CoMega Supreme to try (has flax with coconut and soybean oil).
    CaT is a great v/m supplement, but not necessary if you're feeding enough of a good quality fortified feed (see fist question). But yes, additional cu/zn is often needed, and is very cheap to add separately.

    [quoteI think we have high iron levels in our water, which could be inhibiting Zinc and Copper absorption? Not sure what I can do about this though.[/quote]
    It is absolutely a problem - high (or low) Fe inhibits adequate cu and zn uptake. So, adding those 2 is the easy and cheap fix. Whether it's enough depends on how bad the iron issue is. Some people resort to an RV water filter to help reduce the iron in the water.

    I'm not sure if their hoof issues are due to me not picking their feet and also not riding/working them for over a month - OR - due to nutrition - OR - a combo of these?
    See above - also add in trim quality and/or frequency as possible contributing factors

    I've started working both horses in hand and they are both sound and in good spirits. I just hate the way their feet look and I want to avoid them getting worse.

    They live out in a dry lot pretty much 24/7. They are stalled for feedings or if it's mucky and they need some time to dry out.
    Have they been stalled more often lately? If so, what's the quality of the stall cleaning?
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

    Comment


    • #3
      I am deeply skeptical of nostrums that claim to enhance hoof growth. We've tried a few over the years with little or no positive results and one REALLY negative (a "hoof supplement" turned my normally quiet mare into a fire breathing Horse From Hell).

      The one that might have worked best and was the cheapest was unflavored gelatin.

      Ensure that your horse is being fed the best quality forage and fodder available for their specific needs. Horses are what they eat.

      Then put them on maximized turnout. Ensure that the field is big enough for them to wander around in and has a soft footing (or as soft as you can get). Movement will stimulate hoof growth faster than anything you feed the horse, IMO.

      Consider that if your horse has poor quality feet on the terrain that they are in that they need to be shod. If the problem is that they are wearing the foot faster than it can grow you have to do SOMETHING to reduce the wear. I know that is heresy in some circles but there it is.

      Good luck in your program.

      G.
      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

      Comment


      • #4
        Firmer footing is much healthier for developing and maintaining healthy feet.

        If a horse needs softer due to pathologies, then of course do that. But all else equal, firmer footing creates a much healthier foot.

        Hoof supplements help if they fill in gaps of nutrition left by the rest of the diet. That gaps are varied.
        ______________________________
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
          I am deeply skeptical of nostrums that claim to enhance hoof growth. We've tried a few over the years with little or no positive results and one REALLY negative (a "hoof supplement" turned my normally quiet mare into a fire breathing Horse From Hell).

          The one that might have worked best and was the cheapest was unflavored gelatin.

          Ensure that your horse is being fed the best quality forage and fodder available for their specific needs. Horses are what they eat.

          Then put them on maximized turnout. Ensure that the field is big enough for them to wander around in and has a soft footing (or as soft as you can get). Movement will stimulate hoof growth faster than anything you feed the horse, IMO.

          Consider that if your horse has poor quality feet on the terrain that they are in that they need to be shod. If the problem is that they are wearing the foot faster than it can grow you have to do SOMETHING to reduce the wear. I know that is heresy in some circles but there it is.

          Good luck in your program.

          G.
          I agree. I get OTTBs in with super crappy feet and get them turned around in 90 days with a good diet, a good trim, and no fancy supplements. They are turned out in all weather 18 hours a day
          "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

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          • #6
            Originally posted by JB View Post
            Firmer footing is much healthier for developing and maintaining healthy feet.

            If a horse needs softer due to pathologies, then of course do that. But all else equal, firmer footing creates a much healthier foot.

            Hoof supplements help if they fill in gaps of nutrition left by the rest of the diet. That gaps are varied.
            I may have mis-spoke on "softer" footing. By that I mean not hard-pan footing like rock or baked dirt or gravel. "Soft," in this case, mean "non-abrasive." Sloppy language on my part!

            As to nutrition supplements, I've got about the same level of skepticism as with hoof growth nostrums. If you feed good quality forage and fodder then you're likely within the range of equine needs. If it's demonstrated that there is deficiency in the feed provided then fix the deficiency. If there's none then you might was well heat your house burning dollar bills!!!

            G.

            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

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            • #7
              That makes much more sense
              ______________________________
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                In response to JB's questions:

                They are on Proelite - one is on the Senior and the other is on the Grass Advantage (he gains weight easily). Senior feed gets 3.5 lbs, Grass Advantage gets 2 lbs. They both get orchard grass hay, about 5 flakes each a day. They get 2-3 hours of grass turnout each day.

                They live on a dry lot that is mostly dirt with a few areas of gravel. I think it's about 3/4 of an acre for the two horses. It probably doesn't get picked as often as it should. If they are in their stalls I clean them after I turn them back out. Again, they are usually only stalled a few hours a day (if that). If weather is bad they may be stalled overnight.

                Because of my health issues their dry lot definitely did not get picked enough so they did have manure in their hoofs. I'm back to a better schedule with the picking the dry lot so they haven't had much manure in their hoofs, just the occasional rock.

                Comment


                • #9
                  How much does the Sr feed horse weigh? 3.5lb is under-feeding, from a nutritional perspective, for a horse. The 2lb of the Grass Adv is great.

                  Which feed does Thrush and Chip horse get?
                  ______________________________
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    How often are they being trimmed?

                    If it was me, I'd probably be looking at farriery before diet.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My horse was having similar issues when I first got him and I've had really good success with Farrier's Fix hoof oil. It cleared up the thrush, hardened up the sole, and after about 2 months of use, I no longer see any chipping. I used it daily for the first week and now use it 2-3 times a week as maintenance.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree with JB that I wouldn't necessarily beat yourself up for not picking bare feet every day, especially if you were dealing with your own health issues. I sometimes will only pick some a couple times a week, especially when it's dry & they tend to stay pretty clean (my horses live out 24/7). I do try to check them most days just to make sure they don't have a sweet gum ball or rogue pebble stuck in a crack, which happens, but it's rare. And I also agree that it's best to make sure their trims are what they need before you change diets. Chips & separation can often have mechanical causes that a tweak to the trim can really help.

                        I'm not sure where you are, but I've had an unusually hard time with feet with this year. Part is definitely due to challenging weather (really wet then really dry). I have gone to 4 week intervals on trims - 5 has always been fine in the past, oh, decade, but we were struggling & I am now liking the 4 weeks as it lets us make smaller corrections before things get too flare-y & cracky, it's amazing sometimes how much difference a week can make!

                        After much research, I have also increased Cu/Zn addition. I don't like to mess with trace minerals, so I am using extreme caution, as Cu especially can be very harmful in excess. My horses' diet is technically balanced, but I know we have high iron in our soils & I also have pretty hard water in my well. I talked to my vet about it as well, to make sure that I was well within safe limits so long as I kept the ratios the same. I found the CA Trace too pricey for me too, so I'm currently using the Uckele individual metal powders. They use kelp in it & my horses ARE offended by that, so I can only put a teeny tiny bit in any meal. Fortunately, I only need a teeny tiny bit, but be aware that it's apparently strong-tasting. If I decide to keep on this path, I will try to find a kelp-free variety.

                        I just started the extra metals at the end of August, so my jury is still out whether it's helping. It was pretty cheap for both tubs & it will take a while to use them up, so it's not a financially painful test. If I don't see significant improvements in 4-6 months, then I will stop.
                        Life doesn't have perfect footing.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by wildlifer View Post
                          After much research, I have also increased Cu/Zn addition. I don't like to mess with trace minerals, so I am using extreme caution, as Cu especially can be very harmful in excess.
                          Everything is harmful in excess And while it's good to be concerned, the toxic levels of copper begin in the 250mg/kg range, which would be 125,000 mg for a 500kg/1100lb horse. And, good luck getting them to eat that much of a mineral that's not terribly palatable

                          Balance is much more of an issue than a toxic dose.

                          My horses' diet is technically balanced, but I know we have high iron in our soils & I also have pretty hard water in my well. I talked to my vet about it as well, to make sure that I was well within safe limits so long as I kept the ratios the same.
                          If you get fe:cu:zn in the 4-10:1:3 range, you're fine. The more metabolic the horse, the closer to 4-1-3 you want.

                          I found the CA Trace too pricey for me too, so I'm currently using the Uckele individual metal powders.
                          Usually the CAT individual cu/zn are cheaper than either Uckele or Horsetech

                          They use kelp in it & my horses ARE offended by that, so I can only put a teeny tiny bit in any meal. Fortunately, I only need a teeny tiny bit, but be aware that it's apparently strong-tasting. If I decide to keep on this path, I will try to find a kelp-free variety.
                          Are you using powder or pellets? The pellets are a lot more palatable

                          I just started the extra metals at the end of August, so my jury is still out whether it's helping. It was pretty cheap for both tubs & it will take a while to use them up, so it's not a financially painful test. If I don't see significant improvements in 4-6 months, then I will stop.
                          What improvements are you looking for? Just looking at the change in quality of hoof growth from the top? If you are looking to really see if the ground-level quality improves, you'll need to wait closer to 9 months. Of if you're looking at coat quality, next Summer during prime bleaching season is where you need to be.
                          ______________________________
                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by JB View Post
                            How much does the Sr feed horse weigh? 3.5lb is under-feeding, from a nutritional perspective, for a horse. The 2lb of the Grass Adv is great.

                            Which feed does Thrush and Chip horse get?
                            I have no idea how much either of them weigh, the one on Senior feed is my bigger guy though, a large QH. The other smaller QH is the one on Grass Advantage and he's the one with chips. They both have thrush currently but the larger guy has it worse.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              You need to know roughly how much they weigh, so you know how much feed they should be getting, and how much dewormer to give them. A "large QH" is very subjective, and could be 1200lb or 1500lb Even a smaller (height-wise) QH could weigh 1200/1300lb.

                              http://www.cowboyway.com/HowTo/HorseWeight.htm

                              ______________________________
                              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                I wanted to update for anyone curious - I doubled the amount of feed for my guy on the Senior feed as we were underfeeding him!

                                We have continued the Copper and Zinc with the CoMega Supreme oil for both horses.

                                I got on a better schedule of picking feet every other day or every 3 days, treating thrush with No Thrush and Desitin, and using Desitin as preventative in wet weather.

                                My trimmer was impressed with my boy's feet! They both had improved since last month. We are pretty sure my lack of care in September caused their hoof condition to deteriorate. So for my boys they just need more consistent hoof care and they are good!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by gahorseygal View Post
                                  I wanted to update for anyone curious - I doubled the amount of feed for my guy on the Senior feed as we were underfeeding him!

                                  We have continued the Copper and Zinc with the CoMega Supreme oil for both horses.

                                  I got on a better schedule of picking feet every other day or every 3 days, treating thrush with No Thrush and Desitin, and using Desitin as preventative in wet weather.

                                  My trimmer was impressed with my boy's feet! They both had improved since last month. We are pretty sure my lack of care in September caused their hoof condition to deteriorate. So for my boys they just need more consistent hoof care and they are good!
                                  This is good to hear! And is an important object lesson. Good equine condition (not just the feet but the whole horse) comes from good quality forage and fodder. And good routine care (foot cleaning, grooming, etc.). And regular exercise. The "supplement industry" would have you believe that you can't be successful without the latest "miracle nostrum." Most of the time it's bunk and hokum.

                                  G.
                                  Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

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