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Prevention Of Horses with Shelly, "Chalky" Hooves

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

A significant number of horses develop hoof cracks or sand cracks during dry weather due to excessive drying out of the hoof wall.

In some cases, removal of the protective waxy periople on the hoof during blacksmithing increases the risk of the hooves dehydrating and developing cracks. Regular daily applications of a good quality hoof dressing will help prevent excessive drying out in hot weather, and limit moisture uptake in wet weather.

Studies have reported that supplementation with good quality protein, calcium and 15mg biotin daily, promotes hoof growth, improved bonding and resilience of the hoof wall in horses with large sand cracks, badly broken-away and shelly or brittle hoof walls. Reports have indicated that calcium is also required for the bonding of the internal hoof laminae, and when combined with biotin and protein (containing methionine and lysine), the rate of growth and the quality of the horn produced is improved.

For a thousand pound horse, supplement with 4 teacups of protein (soybean meal), one ounce of calcium carbonate, and 15mg of biotin. The nutritional combination is reported as being helpful in promoting the growth and strength of the hoof wall and preventing separation at the white line. Supplementation may be required daily for 4-6 months to allow the hooves to grow out and strengthen. A general supplement of vitamins and minerals may also be beneficial, to supplement inadequate feed levels of nutrients such as Vitamin A, zinc, and copper in performance and racing horses.

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