Researchers Collaborate To Determine Hoof Growth Patterns

Researchers in equine medicine, physics, math and stem cell biology have worked together to determine how equine hooves grow and why abnormal hoof shapes may develop. The study can be applied to multiple species, including sheep and cattle, and clarifies the role of biology and physics in hoof growth.

Dr. Cyril Rauch, an Associate Professor in Physical and Mathematical Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham, noted that being able to separate the biological and physical causes of abnormally shaped hooves is important so that the hoof issues can be resolved.

Hooves from euthanized horses were used in a study that showed how hoof growth rate can be greater than the proliferation of epithelial cells. The study also showed how the hoof papillae transition from soft and pliable to hard, keratinized tissue. Additionally, it was determined that the back of the hoof wall grows more rapidly so it can curve, while the toe grows straight and less quickly.

The body condition score of each horse was determined and it was found that horses that are proportionally heavier may have straighter hoof growth. Thin horses may have a more-curved hoof shape and poor hoof growth.

The results of the study show how the hoof grows and how it can have a dorsal curve. The scientists noted that the study did not take into account genetic or metabolic influences or hoof trimming and shoeing. The study focused solely on the biology of hoof growth.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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