More Than A Pinch: Why Horses Need Salt

by | 04.17.2017 | 11:46am

Nutritionist Juliet Getty shared her tips with HorseTalk on why horses need supplemental salt, regardless of if the weather is warm. No matter the weather, horses need to stay adequately hydrated, and having salt daily will encourage them to drink.

She notes that heat, humidity and exercise may increase a horse's need for salt, but that a full-sized horse will require at least one ounce of salt each day to receive adequate salt intake. One ounce is about two level tablespoons. In extremely hot or humid weather, a horse may need as much as two ounces a day.

The best way to ensure that a horse is receiving enough salt is to offer free-choice salt at all times to horses or add salt to a horse's grain meals. A plain white salt block is preferable, but salt blocks that include minerals are also fed often, though they can be bitter tasting.

The best way to determine if your horse is getting enough salt is to look at his commercial feed and supplements and determine how much salt he is receiving from those, then add salt to his meals accordingly, if you are top dressing the feed.

Iodine is another important mineral in the equine diet. Horses do best when receiving between 1 and 6 mg of iodine each day. Iodine ensures that a horse's thyroid is functioning properly. As the iodine a horse receives from grazing is usually not adequate, it's best to rely on supplementation to ensure he has enough iodine in his diet. Many commercial feeds have enough iodine in them, so additional supplementation is unnecessary; too much iodine can harm the thyroid gland.

Because horses also require salt, iodized salt is a good way to add iodine and provide salt to the horse at the same time. Granulated iodized salt you buy in the grocery store can suffice; one tablespoon of this salt will provide a horse with all the iodine and salt he needs to stay healthy.

Adding electrolytes to a horse's diet in the summer is also an option, but it's important to remember that electrolytes alone will not keep a horse protected from dehydration. Salt is a key ingredient to keeping a horse healthy if he is in work of any kind. Electrolytes should only be given to a horse that is in good sodium balance

Read more at HorseTalk.

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