Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is required in the horse’s diet for the production of keratin – the main protein that forms a strong, durable hoof structure.

Biotin is most commonly known for supporting hoof growth and quality. It also supports many other elements of the horse’s physiology, including fat and sugar metabolism, hair and coat quality and healthy skin.

Although fresh forages and grains naturally contain this vitamin, the amount supplied in your horse’s diet may not be enough to reap the full beneficial effects of biotin for horses.

Severe biotin deficiency is unlikely to occur in horses, but suboptimal intake can contribute to poor hoof and coat quality. Horses with brittle, cracking hooves that struggle to hold shoes properly might benefit from supplemental biotin.

It is recommended that horses consume a minimum of 20 mg of biotin per 500 kg bodyweight to promote optimal hoof health. Feeding rates up to 30 mg per day might be necessary for heavy horses. [1]

Biotin supplementation is very safe for horses, with no reported cases of toxicity. Like other water-soluble B-vitamins, excess biotin that is not used by the body will be excreted in the urine.

Both of Mad Barn’s equine mineral and vitamin supplements, Omneity and AminoTrace+, provide 20 mg of biotin in each serving.

If you are looking to add supplemental biotin to your horse’s diet on its own, Mad Barn’s bulk Biotin powder provides 20 mg of this vitamin in a 4 gram serving size.

Biotin

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  • Complete mineral balance
  • Supports metabolic health
  • Formulated for IR/Cushing's
  • Hoof growth

Why Horses Need Biotin

Biotin, also known as vitamin B7 or Vitamin H, is essential for optimal function of many enzymes in the horse’s body, not just those involved in building strong, healthy hooves.

It is necessary for four biotin-dependent enzymes that are involved in breaking down fat, sugar, and amino acids to generate energy in all cells of the body.

Horses get this vitamin from the diet and from absorbing biotin that is produced by the microbes in their digestive tract. Biotin is highest in fresh forages like alfalfa and good quality pastures. It is also found in grains like barley, oats, and soybean meal.

Microbes in the hindgut produce biotin, some of which might be absorbed into the horse’s body. However, unlike other B vitamins which begin to appear in the small intestine, the levels of biotin do not start to increase until the hindgut. The absorption of biotin from the hindgut of horses has not been studied.

Horses with hindgut issues like diarrhea, constipation or bloating, or those maintained on high-grain diets might not be producing much of this vitamin in their gut. These horses would likely benefit from supplemental biotin.

Below are the top 7 reasons why horses need adequate biotin in their diet:

1) Support healthy hooves

The most common reason to add biotin to your equine feeding program is to support healthy hooves. Ensuring your horse is getting 20 mg per day can make significant improvements in hoof horn quality.

Biotin is an essential cofactor for enzymes that produce keratin, the structural protein in hooves, and also for the production of the intercellular fatty cement in hooves. Having adequate levels of biotin in the diet will support strong hooves and could help repair brittle, cracking hooves.

In a study, Lipizzaner horses with previously poor hoof structure were given 20 mg biotin per day. They were found to have less sensitive soles and faster growth of the hoof horn [2]. Although not all studies show a faster hoof growth rate, research consistently shows improved hoof quality, with less brittle or chipped hooves.

2) Maintain a healthy coat

Keratin is also an important component of hair and skin. Biotin helps support keratin production in the hair and skin. Horses with hindgut issues that decrease biotin absorption from the hindgut might benefit from supplementation to support a healthy, shiny coat.

Other nutrients like copper, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids are also important to support coat quality in horses. Well-balanced vitamin and mineral premixes should provide copper and zinc in the correct ratio to optimally support coat quality.

3) Support skin quality

Biotin is sometimes referred to as vitamin H for ‘haut’, the German word for skin. Severe biotin deficiency that can occur in other animals like pigs usually causes skin lesions and dermatitis.

Although deficiency is rare in horses, having optimal levels might support the right balance of fats in skin cells to help them function properly and prevent flaky, dry skin. [3]

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