Zinc for Horses Explained

There are many types of ingredients used in horse supplements, but one you will see most frequently is zinc. More often than not you will find this ingredient used in horse hoof supplements amongst others. Looking after your horse’s hooves is vital and you must have a good care plan in place. Zinc for horses is essential, and supplementing zinc can have a great benefit for all horses. 

The addition of a zinc supplement in your horse’s diet can be highly beneficial and it is often the case that horses do not receive the right amount of zinc in their diet from daily feeds alone. This is why it is pretty common for deficiencies to occur in this area and why it is so important for you to monitor. More often than not poor hoof health is a result of a lack of zinc in the diet.

Let’s take a closer look at zinc, what it does and how it can be very beneficial for your horse. 

What is Zinc?

Zinc is a mineral that most living beings need to stay fit and healthy. It can be found in all the cells of your horse’s body already but needs to be present in the right amount to contribute towards your horse’s health. The horse’s body needs the addition of zinc in order to make proteins and DNA.

It is also helpful to prevent the destruction of keratin which heavily contributes to the integrity of your horse’s hoof. This ingredient works very well together with Methionine and the two are known to be very powerful when combined. You will frequently see these two side by side in lots of horse hoof supplements.

Zinc is a nutrient that plays a very vital role in the horse’s body, however, it isn’t naturally produced and therefore supplementation is often required so the body can receive the correct dosage. It is naturally found in many meats and plant-based foods however the types of food we feed to our horse’s is not renowned for providing zinc in big enough quantities.

Zinc is a popular supplement for horse owners and many choose to feed this to their horse daily to ensure they receive all the correct levels of this nutrient. This can help to improve hoof health considerably. Zinc can be found in a pure form however most will choose a hoof supplement with a combination of powerful ingredients.

What Does Zinc Do for Horses?

It’s amazing what the addition of zinc can do for your horse since deficiencies are pretty commonplace for our equine friends. A lack of zinc can present itself in many forms however the most likely is poor hoof health. The majority of the time a horse with cracked, brittle or thin hoof walls are lacking zinc in their diet.

Research has shown that zinc can help with all-round hoof care which can cover many areas. Some examples of what types of issues zinc can help with are as follows:

  • Thin Walls
  • Slow Hoof Growth
  • Thin and Soft Soles
  • Weak and flaky horn
  • Abscessing
  • Weak Connections on the White Line

As you can see zinc can assist with many types of hoof problems and provide your horse with general hoof maintenance. One of the main issues owners tend to have with their horse is slow hoof growth which can be particularly frustrating. It’s true to say that the hoof itself can take some time to grow back however supplementing with zinc can assist with the hoof growing at a much quicker rate. 

Dosages of Zinc Supplements for Horses

Zinc is usually found as part of a formula in horse hoof supplements however it is sometimes fed in pure doses particularly for horses with severe zinc deficiencies. Research has shown that zinc works best when fed in high amounts which is why so many choose to feed zinc as a stand-alone supplement in their horses feed.

When looking at exact quantities it is true to say that the correct dosage will vary from horse to horse and this may be dependent on size, age, weight and the severity of the deficiency. The average dose for a horse around the 1000lbs mark is approx. 400mg of zinc per day. You may find in some formulas (particularly where many other ingredients are present) that the zinc dosage is much lower.

It is often clear to see when your horse has a zinc deficiency, however, determining how severe that lack of zinc is in your horse’s body can be difficult to decide. If you are at all concerned about a zinc deficiency and are unsure how much to feed your horse it is always a good idea to speak to your vet who can investigate further for you. Excessive amounts of zinc (over 500mg) can interfere with your horse’s copper status which can cause additional problems. 

Why Should You Use Zinc with Horses?

Inevitably, horses, in general, do not get enough zinc from their standard diet alone. Many owners choose to feed zinc supplements daily to rule out any deficiency. A lack of zinc usually presents itself in the form of poor hooves which can be particularly troublesome for horses since they rely on their hooves an awful lot.

If your horse's hoof does not grow very quickly, is cracked, brittle and think you may be dealing with a deficiency. A horses hoof need to stay well moisturised in order to stay healthy and you will often find that horses that have been outside in dry weather for long periods will suffer from poor hoof condition.

Horse’s that have insufficient movement (possibly those on box rest) and those with bad fitting shoes may also experience hoof health problems.

Deficiencies of this kind are pretty common in horses but can be easily rectified with some attention and proper care. It’s amazing how zinc supplements can make all the difference to the condition of hooves. One thing to remember however is that zinc supplements are not an instant miracle cure and it could be a while before you start to see results (think 9 months to a year on average).

Read more about the best ingredients for horse hoof supplements here.