Managing horses with hyperkeratosis (Mallanders and Sallanders)

Hyperkeratosis (Mallanders and Sallanders) is a common dermatological condition in horses characterized by the excessive accumulation of keratinized tissue on certain regions of the body, most commonly behind the knees or front of the hocks, although small patches can appear in other positions usually but not solely limited to limbs. Mostly affecting traditional cobs, natives and draught breeds the exact cause is unknown although there has been more research into the understanding that biotin which naturally occurs in the horse’s gut is over active, biotin in essential in the production of keratin a fibrous protein that is a key structural component in the outer layer of the skin, hair, nails, hooves, feathers, and other structures. It provides strength, elasticity, and protection to these tissues. In horses, keratin is particularly important for the strength and integrity of the hooves. Biotin, mentioned earlier, is a nutrient that plays a role in the synthesis of keratin. A deficiency in biotin can lead to poor hoof quality and potential hoof-related issues, while excess production can be a contributing  factor to the development of hyperkeratosis.

 Here we look into the importance of feeding in hyperkeratosis in horses, exploring the role of nutrition, dietary supplements, and management practices in supporting affected horses.

Unfortunately horses who are predisposed to the condition are traditional, native, cob and draught types, these are amongst those who are generally good doers and require little or no bucket ration to maintain condition, this also makes them prone to vitamin and mineral deficiency, causing a vicious circle of poor nutrition, rise in condition and weight management.

The horse's diet plays a fundamental role in maintaining healthy skin and preventing hyperkeratosis. Providing a well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals is essential. Adequate protein intake is crucial for the synthesis of keratin, the primary component of the skin, hair, and hooves. Essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 play a vital role in maintaining the integrity of the skin barrier. These fatty acids can be obtained through the inclusion of sources like linseed meal in the horse's diet. They help reduce inflammation, improve moisture retention, and support overall skin health, reducing the likelihood of hyperkeratosis development, antioxidants such as vitamin E and selenium have been found to support skin health by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. These nutrients can be provided through a balanced diet but usually required in the form of supplements. However, it is crucial to ensure proper dosages, as excessive levels of selenium can be toxic. 

Management Practices: Ensuring horses have access to clean, fresh water is essential for overall hydration and skin health. Adequate hydration helps maintain skin elasticity and prevents excessive dryness, reducing the risk of hyperkeratosis. Proper turnout and exercise are essential for promoting healthy skin in horses. Regular exercise increases circulation, which promotes nutrient delivery to the skin and aids in the removal of metabolic waste products. It is important to provide horses with ample turnout time in a safe and suitable environment to encourage natural movement and exercise. Additionally, the supplementation of nutrients high in oils and antioxidants can further enhance skin integrity. Proper management practices, including hydration, exercise, and turnout, also contribute significantly to maintaining healthy skin in horses. By prioritizing nutrition and implementing appropriate feeding strategies, horse owners and caretakers can promote skin health and minimize the occurrence and severity of hyperkeratosis. He use of topical creams can help to maintain moisture in the skin which will reduce the scabs and soreness.

How Equibalancer can support Hyperkeritosis (Mallanders and Sallanders).

M&S formula and Equibalancer’s Biotin free range have been developed to provide all the essential nutrients for skin integrity whilst being biotin free and also as with all Equibalancer products they are free from Cereals, Cereal by products and fibres, GM ingredients including soya, molasses, and alfalfa.

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