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Do Horses Need Salt? Are Mineral or Sand Blocks a Good Source?
In the wild, horses are foragers, eating what they need throughout the day. Horses in captivity need to have their diets closely monitored to make sure that their daily diet meets the requirements to keep them healthy and maintain regular bodily functions. When determining the correct forage diet for a horse, a veterinarian should be consulted to help formulate a diet based on the horse’s medical history, metabolism, exercise routine, and general health.
Horses should be fed a minimum of twice a day forage-based diet, such as pasture or hay. Supplementation with grains can be given based on a horse’s individual needs. In addition to a proper diet, horses also need salt and other minerals to balance out their diet and to prevent serious illnesses. Salt and mineral blocks are good sources to assist horses in getting these vital nutrients. Read on to learn more about some of the vital nutrients horses need in their diet.
Minerals for Horses
There are several minerals that horses need to maintain their bodily functions without getting sick and how much they need depends on their lifestyle. For example, sports horses need higher levels of minerals due to the amount of exercise and sweating they do, while horses that lead a more sedentary life will need lower amounts of the same minerals. A veterinarian can help determine what the exact needs are for each horse based on its lifestyle.
Here is a list of the major minerals that horses need to remain in peak health:
Horses need minerals like salt, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and iodine, most of which are found in commercial feed and forage diets of hay or pasture. Horses seek out salt naturally, so always provide a free-choice salt lick. If there are concerns about iron or selenium deficiencies, a veterinarian should be consulted to determine if supplementation is needed.
Featured Image Credit: Groomee, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.