Is a Salt Block Enough
 By Winniefield Park   •   13th Nov 2013   •   2,694 views   •   0 comments
Is a Salt Block EnoughIn most stalls and pastures, you'll probably find a salt block or a box or loose salt that horses can help themselves to. It's generally been thought that a horse will self-serve if they require more salt than their diet of hay, grass and possibly concentrates provides. But, in a recent study done by Purina, it was found that natural forages, hays and most concentrates did not actually supply the National Research Council recommended daily requirement, and some horses don't like salt blocks or loose salt. That means a lot of horses aren't getting the salt their bodies need.

In the human diet, salt gets bad press because those of us eating a standard North American diet are probably getting far too much of it. However, salt is very important to us, and to horses because its two components sodium and chloride, are essential for the body to function properly. Sodium is an important electrolyte that basically helps the body maintain proper fluid balances. Chloride has a somewhat similar role and is important for the body's production of digestive fluids. Iodine, which is often added is important for proper thyroid function. Horses may not be getting enough just from their pasture, even if they have access to a salt lick. Long term salt deficiency can mean the body will have trouble retaining water, causing weight loss.

The NRC recommends that “horse rations contain 1.6–1.8 g salt/kg feed dry matter.” So as a general rule, your horse should be getting about two teaspoons of salt a day. The actual amount of sodium and chloride in natural forages can vary greatly, depending upon the soil it grows in. And, the actual requirements of an individual horse varies. Horses that are working hard, or are sweating in hot weather will need more salt than pasture potatoes enjoying the shade.

Most of us have a salt block in our pasture or horse's stall But, that doesn't mean our horses are getting the right amount of salt. Some blocks are laced with molasses, so they taste good. Greedy eaters (I've seen rescue horses do this—whether from an imbalance or desire to eat anything edible) will devour these in no time. Too much salt can of course make the horse thirsty, leading to excessive urination and possibly diarrhea. Other horses dislike the bitter flavor of salt and will barely touch a block or a pail of loose salt. Some horses find licking salt irritating to their tongues. And, blocks made for cattle or sheep aren't suitable for horses at all.

So what's the best way to get salt to your horse in the proper amounts? If you put a block out, buy a plain white salt block, with no minerals or flavors. A five-pound block should be eaten up in about eight weeks. Don't let it get rained on, as this will wear it away faster. Keep the block clean and watch that your horse is actually using it. Add plain table salt to your horse's diet if the block isn't used. Coarse texture plain salt is fine, as you don't want more iodine in your horse's diet if it's already getting a commercial grain concentrate. Horses being lightly ridden will need about two teaspoons a day, while horses that are working hard may need up to double that amount. And, very importantly, keep clean fresh water available at all times.

Image Credit: © Aleksandr Frolov |
Horse News More In This Category:  Care and Grooming      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
 More News by Winniefield Park
Amish Boys Get DUI on Horse and Buggy
23rd Jan 2020   |   Care and Grooming   |   Winniefield Park
four underage Amish men charged with felony obstruction of justice, disorderly conduct and given civil infractions for being minors in possession of alcohol. Witnesses saw the young men tossing beer cans from the buggy. The heavil ...
Top PonyBox Stables To Start 2020
21st Jan 2020   |   Care and Grooming   |   Winniefield Park
2020, and a new decade is only a few weeks old. The winter days seem to drag, it certainly doesn’t seem like the Roaring Twenties, but game play continues with changing stats and rankings. Here’s a look at some of the top barns on ...
Rejected Show Horse Saves Owner from Fire in Australia
19th Jan 2020   |   Care and Grooming   |   Winniefield Park
As her family fled the fire, leaving behind possessions and favorite farm animals, a horse named Charmer, once rejected as a show horse, carried her owner to safety though blinding smoke to safety. Her rider, disoriented by the sm ...
PonyBox Top Fives and Prospects
18th Jan 2020   |   Care and Grooming   |   Winniefield Park
Who has been at the coveted number one ranking recently? Here is a look at some of the horses that have reached the number one spot and a few that are poised to grab top spot very soon. ...
Tiniest Dwarf Horse Learns To Walk
13th Jan 2020   |   Care and Grooming   |   Winniefield Park
Chanel the tiny horse is a dwarf. She had a hard start in life when her mother rejected her. Her poorly formed legs made it difficult to learn to walk and she had to be bottle fed every two hours. Her breeder reached out to the Pe ...
One hundred Horses Rescued In Police Sting Operation
12th Jan 2020   |   Care and Grooming   |   Winniefield Park
A team of volunteers is responsible for rescuing over one hundred horses in King County near Enumclaw. The horses, some in foal and with foals by their sides, were being kept in unsanitary conditions by a women well known to be a ...
Interview of a Horse Kill Buyer
8th Jan 2020   |   Care and Grooming   |   Winniefield Park
The public may be more aware of the negative side of horse racing as the number of race horse deaths at Santa Anita and other tracks becomes publicized. Now, USA Today has shone an unflattering light on another dark side of the sp ...
Horse Magazine Apps
4th Jan 2020   |   Care and Grooming   |   Winniefield Park
An interesting magazine is a good way to pass the time on the bus or in a waiting room. But who wants to read those germ laden, dogeared waiting room magazines, or yesterday's newspaper? And, your Facebook Instagram feeds can get ...
  View All News by Winniefield Park
©2002 - 2020   PonyBox LLC Create Account Terms & Conditions Privacy Contact Us
422 Members Online 258,681 Registered Members 2,655 News Articles 11,267,333 Unique News Article Views 266,560,043 Website Views