Effects of season and diet on tensile strength and mineral content of the equine hoof wall


Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA.


Studies evaluating nutritional and seasonal influences on hoof strength and composition in horses, as well as the scientific justification for feeding supplements to improve hoof quality, are lacking. The horseman and veterinarian need controlled studies in this area to make informed decisions. This project quantified, in 2 trials, relative elasticity, tensile strength, % moisture, and mineral composition of hooves of 48 mature Thoroughbred mares maintained on different nutritional/management regimens, sampled quarterly over 12 month periods. Tensile strength was positively associated with sulphur content. Per cent moisture was not significantly associated with tensile strength, relative elasticity, or mineral content measures. Results indicated that both seasonal trends and nutritional regimes greatly affected hoof wall strength and mineral composition.