September 2016 - Biotin
Biotin is a B-vitamin and is often added to horse rations. For some horses it can improve the quality and growth of the hoof.
Biotin plays an important role in intermediary metabolism. It is a co-enzyme and is involved in fatty acid synthesis, gluconeogenesis, amino acid metabolism, and metabolism of cholesterol and odd-chain fatty acids. Biotin is also essential for cell proliferation.
In the horse the gut microbes produce biotin and the concentration of biotin in the digesta increases in the hind-gut. Biotin is found in feeds commonly used in horse rations. Examples are (in mg/kg dry matter): Alfalfa hay 0.2; Oats 0.11-0.39; Barley 0.13-0.17; Maize 0.06-0.1.
Biotin is included in most compound feeds for horses in amounts of 0.1 – 1.0 mg/kg. However, many producers have special products with higher inclusions of biotin (5 – 20 mg/kg). Many vitamin supplements for horses have a high content of biotin.
Effect on hoof quality and growth
Several studies report improved hoof quality after oral administration of relatively high amounts of biotin (10-30 mg/d) for at least 9 months. Some studies (but not all) report increased growth of the hoof. It must be emphasized that poor hoof quality as a result of improper hoof care cannot be improved by giving biotin.
Biotin requirements above those supplied by the intestinal microbes, have not been established, and signs of deficiency have not been reported in horses. Biotin has low toxicity and effects of excess have not been described in horses.
PC-Horse will calculate the amount of biotin in your rations, but as optimum requirements are not well established, no warning will be given for deficiency or excess.
This article was originally written by Dr. Day Austbø.
Copyright: PC-Horse International - Norway 2013.
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