Differences in mineral concentrations on hooves of horses, mules and donkeys
This study aimed to measure the concentrations of minerals in different regions and pigmentation of horses’ hooves, mules and donkeys. A total of 20 Crioulo horses, 20 mules and 20 Pega donkeys were used. They formed two groups: pigmented (dark) or non-pigmented (bright) hooves. All animals were unshod and with adequate foot conformation. Females were nonpregnant and without foal and no animals were in training. Samples were collected from the hooves of all limbs in the regions of wall, sole and frog. The concentrations of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc were determined by atomic absorption spectrophotometry; sodium and potassium concentrations were determined by atomic emission spectrophotometry. Among the groups it was observed that the wall, sole and frog of donkeys’ hooves presented higher concentrations of sodium and calcium and with the exception of the frog that also obtained higher levels of copper in this species. Mules had lower concentrations of zinc in the wall and the horses had higher concentrations of potassium and zinc in the sole and higher magnesium in the frog and wall. There was no difference (P>0.05) in concentrations regarding the pigmentation of the hooves. The different regions of the hooves in each group presented similar concentrations of minerals and it was regardless of the pigmentation. The mineral concentrations may be related to desirable functional properties of the donkeys’ hooves. Pigmented and non-pigmented hooves have similar concentrations of minerals.