The Omega Fatty Acids and Hoof Health
The hoof is not built to crumble under challenges – it's designed to survive.
Because the hoof is a very active tissue that is constantly growing and restructuring the sole, hoof wall, frog and internal structures, its nutritional needs are very high. Although trim and genetics are also factors, good nutrition very commonly plays a role in hoof health.
Often overlooked, fat is very important to hoof health and integrity. The various fats and waxes fill the spaces between the keratinocytes. They give the outer layer of a healthy hoof a naturally slick feel and shine. The outermost layer of the hoof wall (stratum externum, aka periople) also contains a variety of fats and waxes, as does the “hard”/dead portion of the hoof wall in general. When present in correct amounts in an unbroken layer, these seal moisture into the deeper hoof structures and seal water out.
Targeted nutritional dynamics can play a very important role in helping your horse achieve exceptional hoof growth.
Supplementing fat can help support the fatty composition in the hoof and feet. While the horse is capable of synthesizing the types of fats found in the hoof wall, horses eating hay rather than fresh vegetation are consuming 50% less fat. Be sure to include the Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids, as these must come from the diet.
Fat plays a very important role as the “cement” that holds cells together, helps form protective seals that keep moisture from the environment out of the hoof, and moisture from the internal living structures from escaping. Especially if the horse is not on pasture, supplementation of high quality fat can help maintain hoof quality in the winter months.