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Types of Trace Minerals Your Horse Needs
 By Winniefield Park   •   2nd Apr 2017   •   887 views   •   0 comments


If your horse is eating good quality grass or hay, you probably donít have to give much thought to the mineral content, especially trace minerals. Trace minerals are nutrients that horses need in only very small quantities. And because of this, the small amount that is available in their food is probably sufficient. Occasionally, a horse does run short of trace minerals and that can cause health problems. Anemia, muscle cramping, poor performance, bone deformities in growing youngsters, poor coat, cataracts, cardiovascular and immune problems are some of the signs of a micro-nutrient or trace mineral deficiency.

Selenium
One of the most common trace minerals our horses may be missing is selenium. This mineral is found in the soil at different concentrations. Many areas are selenium deficient, while others have too much. In areas that are deficient, grass and hay may also have low concentrations and livestock may be getting too little. This can lead to an ineffective immune system. If there is a sufficient amount in the soil, and the horse is fed a supplement with selenium, that too can cause problems. This is why testing hay is important, so you know which nutrients need to be added in and which itís best to avoid.

Zinc
Zinc is important for efficient metabolism and growth and aids in healthy coat and hoof growth. Of course, hoof, bone and coat growth can be impaired by a zinc deficiency. The horseís production of insulin can be impaired which can lead to metabolic problems. Overdosing is rare, but can lead to muscle stiffness, impaired and deformed bone growth, and the malabsorption of other minerals.

Copper
Copper is another trace mineral thatís important for skin and coat health, soft tissue such as ligaments and tendons and producing the pigment in eyes, skin and coat. A deficiency of copper can cause poor bone growth in young horses and in older horses, there may be weakening of the soft tissues. Copper deficiency is very rare. Too much copper is rarely a concern either, as the body seems to regulate the amount absorbed very well.

Iodine
Iodine aids in the production of thyroid hormones. Too much or too little may lead to an enlarged thyroid gland. The thyroid hormones are tied into efficient metabolism inside the cells. Rough coat, thick skin, hair loss, poor appetite and poor foal development are some of the signs of iodine deficiency.

Itís easy to ensure your horse is getting sufficient trace minerals in its diet. Good quality hay and grass will likely be sufficient. But, if you test your hay and find a shortfall most concentrates contain adequate supplements. It is possible to feed specific minerals, although you need to be careful not to overfeed them. A mineral salt block is one of the easiest ways for your horse to self-serve. But, that horses will seek out sources of minerals themselves is a myth. So you need to know what you are feeding and monitor your horse to ensure they are in the best health possible.
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