What Does it Do?
Biotin is a member of the B-complex group of vitamins and is most known for supporting nutrients for a healthy skin, coat and hoof.
Biotin is a vitamin that must be obtained either through the diet or via the absorption of Biotin that is synthesized by intestinal bacteria.
Where Does My Horse Get Biotin?
The best place for your horse to get Biotin is pasture but good quality forage can also provide your horse with Biotin. Horses derive most of their Biotin requirement from the fermentation of forages by the microbial population in the hindgut.
Grains such as oat, barley, and soybean meal only provide moderate concentrations of Biotin and the lowest levels are found in corn. Because of this some formulated feeds usually add Biotin but it is typically less than 1 mg per day on an as feed basis.
There are also numerous supplements on the market that contain high levels of Biotin. These supplements are intended to improve the horse’s hair coat or hoof condition.
What is the nutritional importance of Biotin?
Biotin is similar to other B-vitamins in that it is essential in the conversion of feedstuffs to energy so horses can grow, work, and reproduce. Biotin is found in virtually every cell in the body and is an essential coenzyme in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. This B-vitamin is also important for normal thyroid and adrenal gland function, reproductive tract health, nervous system stability, and the growth and repair of skin and hooves.
There is quite a bit of research on biotin as a means of improving hoof quality of the horse and I have seen the benefits of Biotin supplementation in my own horses. Various studies have found a significant improvement from Biotin supplementation on overall hoof condition. This makes horses with dry, brittle hooves and cracked feet the best candidates for Biotin supplementation. Biotin has also been seen to improve hoof condition in horses that are shod frequently or that pull shoes often, horses with chronic, recurrent laminitis, and those with generally “bad” feet.
How Do I Feed Biotin?
Horses without the added stresses of growth, hard work or poor skin and hoof condition generally receive enough Biotin in their forage and grains. The amount typically found in better feeds and produced by microbial fermentation of forage is enough to prevent any outright Biotin deficiency in most horses.
In horses with higher Biotin demands supplements typically offer 5 to 25 mg of Biotin per daily serving. With hoof issues research has shown that in order to achieve improvement in hoof health, a horse should consume a minimum of 15 mg of Biotin per day for 6-8 months to see improvement.
Once Biotin has been mixed with other ingredients, particularly oils and other fats, it has a relatively short shelf life so feeding a supplement with added ingredients is best.
It’s important to remember that a horse’s hoof takes a year to grow out so you need to give Biotin supplementation time. If improvement has been seen within eight to 15 months, the horse will need to remain on Biotin the rest of its useful life to maintain improved hoof condition.
Also, be sure to consider all sources of Biotin when calculating how much is in your horse’s diet. If you are feeding more than one supplement, you should read the label of each supplement to determine the overall amount of Biotin that your horse is receiving.
Side Note: Since there are no government controls on the manufacture of equine supplements, it is important to buy from a reputable dealer to guarantee that the amount promised on the label is indeed in the product.
~Peace and Good Feed,