A friend recently asked me my opinion of hoof supplementation and in particular biotin supplementation for horses.
There is so much information out there on biotin! While researching I decided to collate the points I thought relevant and put it all in one place here.
- Biotin a water soluble B vitamin.
- Biotin does not affect old hoof growth - like all hoof problems, you
have to grow a new hoof from the coronary band.
- Biotin doesn't make the hoof grow any quicker either - increased movement and other
factors (e.g. nutrition, time of the year) do.
- Researchers are not sure how biotin works - but a lot of horses with shelly, flaky, prone to cracking hooves showed improvement in the hardness of the hoof horn. Hooves showed improved tensile strength and flexibility after prolonged biotin supplementation.
- Most horses produce enough biotin in the gut to satisfy bodily functions (the National Research Council's recommendation is two milligrams (mg.) of biotin daily). Some may benefit supplementation if they genetically have poor quality hoof horn. Therefore some hooves will improve with biotin supplementation, others will not.
- To see results (if any) supplementation will need to be carried out for a minimum of about 6 months (reason being see point 2!).
- It is found that once supplementation stops the new growth often reverts to it's previous inferior state. To continue with the improved hoof, the horse often needs biotin supplementation for life at a reduced maintenance rate of 2 - 3mg daily.
- Dosage rate is debatable. Some say 5mg per day, others say 20mg per day or more. I couldn't find an upper-daily-dosage limit for horses but being a water soluble vitamin, in theory the horse would excrete any it does not need. However some say that the gut may 'forget' how to produce enough biotin if over supplementation occurs. I'm a bit sceptical of that though.
- Some sources say that biotin works better when paired with methionine (an essential amino acid).
So is it worth supplementing biotin?
Like most questions about hooves, it seems to be the answer is 'maybe'.
I have not supplemented biotin in the past. I have not really seen the need for it in my own horses.