Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.
Below you will find the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.
Q: What impact can salt and trace-mineralized salt blocks have on the health of my horses?
By J. Frank Gravlee, DVM, MS, CNS, and Scott Gravlee, DVM, CNS, Life Data Labs
A: Salt and trace minerals should not be fed in combined form, as a horse’s need for each is different. Salt requirements beyond metabolic needs are based almost entirely on the amount a horse sweats, while trace minerals are a metabolic need and are relatively steady regardless of exercise and ambient temperature.
When salt and trace minerals are fed together in block or loose form, horses are force-fed trace minerals according to their salt needs. This can become dangerous since trace minerals aren't easily shed and can rise to toxic levels in a horse’s system.
Feed a high-quality hay, a single balanced supplement and grain as needed, as most horses receive more than enough trace minerals. However, it’s generally a good idea to provide free-choice loose salt to ensure a horse’s salt needs are being met.
Salt blocks are intended for rough cattle tongues and the tongues of horses are too smooth to achieve much gain from licking. Salt-depleted salt-addicted horses may bite off a chunk and swallow it, creating an abundance of hoof-destructive urine due to excess salt-excess thirst.
Frank Gravlee and Scott Gravlee are veterinarians and equine nutritionists at Life Data Labs, Inc. in Cherokee, Ala.
Click here to read part 1 of the Oct. 3, 2019 installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: Can you explain the basics of equine Cushing’s disease and how it could affect my three horses?
Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine).
Like many significant achievements, Absorbine® grew out of humble beginnings—and through the tenacity of someone willing to question the status quo. In this case, it was a young woman in late 19th-century Massachusetts: Mary Ida Young. Her husband, Wilbur Fenelon Young, was an enterprising piano deliveryman who relied on the couple’s team of horses to make deliveries throughout the Northeast. Inspired by Mary Ida and Wilbur’s vision, Absorbine® has continued to add innovative products throughout the years — products used every day by horse owners around the world. Which is why, since 1892, we’ve been The Horse World’s Most Trusted Name®.