Using Gelatin to Promote Hoof Growth and Health

Mar 26, 2013 | Hoof Care

Studies in Europe now show that gelatin provides building blocks of cartilage; effectively providing nutritional support required for cartilage regeneration. A study published in Therapiewoche by Adam ET. Al. (1991), using randomized double-blinded crossover trial of 52 patients with hip or knee osteoarthritis, found that gelatin supplements improved symptoms related to joint pain compared to a placebo. Another study in 1994 by Beuker and Rosenfeld, using a randomized blinded, placebo-controlled trial of 92 geriatric patients, found that gelatin appears to have a significantly positive effect on joint health by reducing the sensation of pain and enhancing mobility compared to a placebo.

The entire structure, flexibility and strength of cartilage are due to collagen fibers. The absence of collagen fibers to hold cartilage in place as buffers would result in bones grinding against each other. Giving a horse gelatin is like everything else – some things work for some and not others. It is relatively inexpensive and definitely worth the try when compared to the pricey hoof and joint supplements out there.

Gelatin is a substance derived from the processing of animal collagen. (Collagen is a type of protein. Fibrous in nature, it connects and supports other bodily tissues, such as skin, bone, tendons, muscles, and cartilage.) Commercially, gelatin is most typically obtained from cattle hides and bones and pigskins. Contrary to popular belief, gelatin is not rendered from the feet or horns of animals (no fear of hoof and mouth disease).

In its most basic form, commercially processed edible gelatin is a tasteless beige or pale yellow powder or granules. It is composed of mostly protein and contains eighteen amino acids. Gelatin has long been considered to strengthen hair and nails as well as make them both grow much faster. Gelatin is also considered to possibly promote joint health. Two of the amino acids found in gelatin are substances the body uses to make collagen, a primary component of connective tissues such as cartilage. Based on these findings, researchers are currently exploring whether supplemental gelatin might play a role in rebuilding arthritic joints. There is no conclusive evidence of the benefits of gelatin but there are also no known health risks. There is no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with gelatin however some people are allergic to bovine (cow) gelatin. Also, there are non-animal gel sources such as agar-agar (a seaweed) and interestingly enough there is a horse supplement based on seaweed and other nutrient from the ocean!

In the horse industry gelatin is used as a feed supplement to aid in hoof and hair growth and to strengthen the hoof. Just like humans take gelatin to grow strong nails and hair, it is safely fed to horses for the same reasons. It is relatively inexpensive and many people report changes in their horse’s hooves in just 30 days. There are several other supplements people feed for good hoof growth and quality like biotin, flax seed and obviously all of the more expensive specialty hoof formulas.

Most horses eat Gelatin right up – I have never heard of a horse refusing to eat when Gelatin was added to their feed. I think it is important to note that if you do not see a difference in your horses hoof condition between 3 to 6 months then I would try something else. We recommend 1 to 2 ounces daily added to feed—some people feed as much as ¼ cup in morning feed and night feed. I think it is important to realize the hoof condition and hair condition is a reflection of health with genetic playing a role in there. A lot of breeds in the horse industry are inbred and as a consequence you will see weakness crop up but “Healthy is Healthy.” Our gelatin is filler and sugar free—just plain ole gelatin!