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Selenium Supplement In Your Horses Diet
 By Winniefield Park   •   3rd Oct 2017   •   1,224 views   •   0 comments


Of all the micronutrients that horses need, selenium is perhaps the one we hear most about. Selenium is a mineral that occurs naturally in soil. The problem is, where the land is used for agriculture, the selenium that previously existed has become depleted. In most parts of Australia and New Zealand, the New England states and states and provinces surrounding the Great Lakes, portions of the Pacific Northwest and the states of Arizona and New Mexico, the levels of selenium in the soil are low. Over two-thirds of the British Isleís soil is low in selenium. Itís felt that the amount of selenium naturally occurring the soil is decreasing worldwide, and some speculate that along with agriculture, global climate change may be contributing.

While selenium isnít overly important to plant growth, it is important to the animals that eat those plants. Selenium is a trace mineral. That means, itís not a macronutrient like calcium phosphorus but is only needed in very tiny amounts. The average riding horse only requires about 3 mg of the mineral each day.

But, even though the amount of selenium a horse needs is minute, it plays a big role in the horse's health. Selenium helps support the horseís immune system and tissue growth. Without it, a horse can suffer from a number of health problems. Young horses and performance horses are more likely to be affected by a deficiency. Some reproductive problems may be due to selenium deficiency. White muscle disease is a symptom of selenium deficiency. This damages the muscles of horses, replacing sound muscle with pale scar tissue. There is also speculation that deficiency can lead to pica - the urge to eat unusual food and non-food things. And, there is a possibility of sudden death syndrome, brought on by lack of selenium in the diet

Thereís a flip side to selenium in a horseís nutrition though. It is possible for a horse to get too much selenium. This overdose can be sudden or take place over a long period of time. In the few places where there is a plentiful amount in the soil, adding a supplement with selenium may cause an overdose. This used to be called alkali disease. Symptoms include shedding of the hoof wall, weight loss, weakness, coat and hair loss, blindness, stiff gait, colic, bad breath and poor balance. This imbalance too can lead to sudden death in horses if the overdose is sudden. Tying up, a serious muscle stiffness after work, used to be a symptom. But, because of well-balanced feeds that are now given to working horses, selenium is no longer likely to be the culprit.

Supplementing selenium needs to be done with care so the horse is not getting too much or too little. If the horse appears to already have an imbalance, itís important to have a vet test to find out exactly what it is. Then, all the feed the horse has to be taken into consideration, including hay and pasture grass. Hay can be tested to find out the nutritional content. And, you will then know what you should and should not be supplementing with.

If the concentrations of selenium in the feed and water are high, it would be inappropriate to add more to the horseís diet. A horse that is in danger of selenium overdose needs to be put on a diet that will help balance the amount of selenium it takes in and help it detox from the excess. Horses with deficiencies need to be supplemented. This may mean adding a mineral supplement, or it may mean a balancing concentrated grain mix can be fed to the horse. If you are at all concerned that your horse might be getting too much or too little of this or any other nutrient, blood or tissue testing can be done by your veterinarian.
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