Q&A: What is biotin?

  • Q: My farrier has advised I feed a biotin supplement. Could you tell me a bit more about biotin and how it helps the horse?

    Nutritionist Christine Smy replies: Biotin is a sulphur containing B vitamins, which is particularly useful in maintaining good horn growth.

    Horses manufacture B vitamins in the large intestine during the breakdown of fibre, and the absorption of these vitamins, added to those obtained from a well-balanced diet, usually provides adequate levels for the horse.

    Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin and is not stored in the body for any period of time. It is either used by the body cells or excreted in the urine. Therefore, if your horse has poor feet, biotin should be added daily to the diet, preferably at 15mg per daily dose as this is the level needed to produce quality horn.

    When choosing a hoof supplement, avoid those which contain just biotin as there are other elements which should be added as a complement. These include zinc, calcium and methionine.

    Only two per cent of horses with hoof problems have a biotin deficiency and, by adding biotin alone, the hoof takes longer to repair than with all four elements.

    Finally, a hoof will take between nine to 12 months to re-grow, so don’t expect to see results immediately.

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