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Horse Feeding Pitfalls: Lack of Salt

In our continuing series regarding horse feeding pitfalls, we now turn to the need for salt in the equine diet.
Sodium and chloride–the components of table salt–are electrolytes essential to many bodily functions. Both are lost in sweat and must be replaced from the diet. These are also the only essential nutrients that are not naturally present in grasses and grains.

Horses have a natural appetite for salt and consume what they need if given the opportunity. Placing a salt block in your herd’s pasture is the easiest way of providing access to this vital nutrient, but to ensure that all horses get the salt they need, you may decide to put out multiple blocks or even place a small block in each horse’s stall.

If you choose the latter option, be warned, says Crandell: “Some horses kept in stalls a lot will get bored and start overeating salt, and this will make them drink a lot more and then pee a lot more.” For these horses, she suggests offering just a daily portion–one or two ounces of loose salt, or more if it’s hot or the horse has been sweating heavily. “If the diet is balanced, plain white table salt is fine,” she adds. “It doesn’t have to be mineralized.”

If you do offer loose salt, it’s best to keep it in a bucket rather than pouring it over feed. A horse’s need for salt may fluctuate daily. If you give too little, you can create imbalances; too much, and the feed may become unpalatable.

Source: Equisearch, Laurie Bonner

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