Key Point Details
Zinc's Importance Essential for enzymatic activity, protein metabolism, and immune function. Recommended daily intake: 400-500 mg for a 500 kg horse.
Cellular Functions Vital for the synthesis of collagen and keratins. Supports enzymes involved in cell reproduction and repair, including SOD for oxidative damage protection.
Structural Integrity Incorporated into "zinc finger" proteins. Maintains hoof integrity by preventing oxidation of hoof fats and oils.
Deficiency Symptoms Slow hoof growth, thin hoof walls, weak connections, cracks, sole hemorrhages, abscesses, thrush, laminitis, and poor coat quality.
Balancing Minerals Essential to balance zinc with copper. Recommended zinc to copper ratio: 3:1 to 4:1 to avoid copper deficiency and related issues.
Zinc Supplementation Available in organic and inorganic forms. Organic forms like zinc methionine, proteinate, and nicotinate are better absorbed. Consultation with an equine nutritionist is advised.
Consultation and Care Regular consultation with an equine nutritionist ensures balanced diets and appropriate supplementation for optimal hoof and overall health.


Zinc is a trace mineral that plays a crucial role in the overall health of horses, particularly in the growth and maintenance of healthy hooves. This blog will explore the importance of zinc in equine diets, its specific functions related to hoof health, and the implications of zinc deficiency and excess. By understanding these aspects, horse owners can make informed decisions about zinc supplementation to ensure their horses have strong, healthy hooves.

The Importance of Zinc in Equine Diets

Zinc is essential for numerous biological processes in horses, including enzymatic activity, protein metabolism, and immune function. For a 500 kg horse, the National Research Council (NRC) recommends a daily intake of 400-500 mg of zinc, depending on the horse's exercise level. Despite its importance, zinc is often deficient in equine diets due to low levels in forage and interference from other minerals like iron and manganese. For more details, visit horse care supplements.

Healthy Horse Hooves

Zinc's Role in Hoof Health

Cellular Functions and Enzyme Activity

Zinc is vital for the synthesis of collagen, keratins, and other proteins that are essential for hoof structure and strength. It supports the function of enzymes involved in cell reproduction, maintenance, and repair of epithelial tissues, including the hoof wall epidermal cells, dermis, and blood vessels. One such enzyme is superoxide dismutase (SOD), which protects hoof tissue from oxidative damage. Learn more about hoof minerals.

Structural Integrity

Zinc is incorporated into "zinc finger" proteins, which are crucial for cell multiplication and the assembly of keratin, the major structural protein of the hoof. Adequate zinc levels help maintain the integrity of the hoof by preventing the fats and oils in hoof tissue from oxidizing, which can weaken the protective seal and the 'glue' between keratin cells. Check out hoof and coat supplements for more information.

Hoof Structure

Signs of Zinc Deficiency

Zinc deficiency in horses can manifest in several ways, often visibly affecting the hooves. Common symptoms include:

  • Slow hoof growth
  • Thin hoof walls
  • Weak connections within the hoof structure
  • Cracks and sole hemorrhages
  • Abscesses and thrush
  • Laminitis

Additionally, zinc deficiency can lead to poor coat quality, with symptoms such as bleaching of the coat and red ends on black manes and tails. Discover more about the benefits of zinc for horses.

Signs of Zinc Deficiency

Balancing Zinc with Other Minerals

While zinc is crucial, it does not act in isolation. The balance of zinc with other minerals, particularly copper, is essential for optimal hoof health. Excessive zinc can interfere with copper absorption, leading to copper deficiency, which can cause skeletal issues and further compromise hoof integrity. Therefore, a balanced ratio of zinc to copper, typically between 3:1 and 4:1, is recommended to avoid these issues. For balanced mineral supplements, visit Dodson & Horrell.

Balancing Minerals

Supplementing Zinc

Zinc can be supplemented in both organic and inorganic forms. Organic forms, such as zinc methionine, zinc proteinate, and zinc nicotinate, are generally more effective for hoof health due to better absorption rates. However, it is crucial to consult with an equine nutritionist to ensure the correct balance of minerals in the diet, as improper supplementation can lead to other health issues. For expert advice and high-quality supplements, check out Science Supplements.

Zinc Supplements


Zinc plays a pivotal role in maintaining and improving hoof health in horses. By understanding its functions and the signs of deficiency, horse owners can take proactive steps to ensure their horses receive adequate zinc through balanced diets and appropriate supplementation. Always consult with an equine nutritionist to tailor the supplementation to your horse's specific needs, ensuring a holistic approach to hoof care and overall health. For comprehensive care products, visit NAF Hoof Support.

Healthy Hoof

For more detailed information on zinc and its role in hoof health, you can refer to the following sources:

Hoof Care

Asked by You

What vitamin is vital for proper growth and development of the hoof?

Biotin is the vitamin that is most vital for the proper growth and development of the hoof. It plays a key role in the production of keratin, which is essential for strong and healthy hooves. For more on hoof supplements, visit Hilton Herbs.

What promotes hoof growth?

Several factors promote hoof growth, including a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients like zinc, biotin, and methionine, as well as regular exercise and proper hoof care. For comprehensive hoof care products, check out Horse First Hoof & Coat Supplements.

What makes horse hooves grow faster?

To make horse hooves grow faster, ensure they receive a diet high in biotin, zinc, and amino acids, along with consistent hoof care practices such as regular trimming and maintaining a clean, dry environment. For effective hoof growth supplements, visit Equimins Hoof Supplements.