Biotin in humans is known to support hair growth and its suppleness. Biotin for horses, however, primarily promotes the growth of the hooves. The substance, also known as vitamin H, is, therefore, an important component of horse nutrition – we show when and how it is fed correctly.
In most cases, adequate intake of biotin is ensured by normal feeding. Yeasts and grains have a rather low proportion of the vitamin, but using green forage such as grass or fresh fruit is a safe source. So if your horse has no problem with horn growth, you do not need to feed the additive as a supplement.
However, if your horse suffers from brittle, dry hooves that grow very slowly, biotin can stimulate this horn growth by supporting the formation of keratin. Even dry skin and brittle hair are combated with vitamin H, similar to humans. A suitable feed supplement with the vitamin can do a lot in these cases.
At this point, we want to approach the matter a little more scientifically and explain what actually the task or the effect of biotin in the body is. The substance is basically a coenzyme, which plays a crucial role in the transfer of carbon.
It is a so-called link between carbohydrate and fat metabolism. This means that, among other things, the synthesis of fatty acids, but also the conversion of pyruvate to fructose and then to glucose (gluconeogenesis) is bound to biotin. This safeguards carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. These processes are important in horses and humans in order to ensure healthy skin, hair, and horn or nails.
If, on the other hand, there is a disturbance in this metabolism, hair loss occurs, the skin becomes flaky and dry and the horn or nails become brittle. Eczema and permanent exhaustion can also be consequences of a biotin deficiency.
Recognize Biotin Deficiency
If a horse has not absorbed enough biotin, this means in most cases a metabolic disorder. As already mentioned, this manifests itself, for example, in hair loss or brittle, dull hair, and/or discoloration. Rough, dry skin and cracked, very worn hooves can also be an indication.
The reason for such a deficiency is often a disturbed intestinal flora. If your horse suffers from liver problems or fecal water, for example, the production of the vitamin can be impaired. Silage feeding can also have a negative effect.
Biotin Feeding in Horses
If you suspect that your horse suffers from a biotin deficiency, it is best to have this clarified by the vet. If the suspicion is confirmed, the vitamin can be given in the form of additional feed. There are different options:
- Capsules or tablets (they are high doses, but are often refused by the horse).
- Administer liquid biotin (it can simply be added with normal feed and is easily absorbed by the horse).
- Powder (can also be given over the feed).
- Pellets (usually made up in the form of treats to be appetizing for the horse).
- Biotin horse feed (special feed with a higher proportion of the coenzyme).
- Natural biotin from foods such as brewer’s yeast, sunflower (kernels), soybeans, and oats.
Normally the dosage is about 3-4 mg biotin per 100 kg body weight per day. More does not make sense because the horse’s body cannot process it. In order to achieve a permanent effect, additional feeding should take place for 7 to 9 months. Only after this period of time will there be a clear improvement in the hoof horn, skin, and hair.
Does Vitamin H Have Side Effects?
The addition of biotin can usually not have a negative effect on your horse. Overdosing is also not possible. However, if your horse shows loss of appetite or similar symptoms after you start feeding the vitamin, you should contact your veterinarian.
Stimulate the Natural Supply of Biotin
In addition to the additional feed, it can also be useful to stimulate the body’s own biotin synthesis. For this, it is crucial to feed good, high-quality hay in large quantities (1-1.5 kg per 100 kg of body weight). Concentrated feed – and above all the right proportion to roughage – is important in order not to let the pH value in the horse’s intestine get too acidic.
Also, be careful not to feed too much pasture grass, oils, and grains. If overfeeding takes place here, the colon flora is unbalanced, which can restrict the synthesis of the coenzyme.