As a horse owner, you take good care of your animal. But did you know you may be overlooking one critical part of your horse’s diet? Yes, it’s nutrients and water consumption and you can’t look at one without understanding the other.
Why is sodium a crucial nutrient for horses?
One major reason that sodium is crucial to your horse’s diet is because it transports nutrients across the body. These nutrients include glucose, amino acids, and other nutrients that cannot cross the membrane.
A full 66 percent of horses don’t get enough sodium in their diet.
How to I get more sodium in my horses’ diet?
As one of the major electrolytes, your horse really needs sodium in his diet. Don’t set out a salt block; salt blocks are most commonly used for cattle. Cows have strong tongues and salt blocks are rough. Salt blocks can prevent your horse from licking because they cut your horse’s more tender tongue.
Instead, to ensure your horse receives enough sodium, set out a bucket of loose salt in the corner of the stall or hang it under a shelter in the pasture. Horses can consume as much salt as necessary this way. You can also add loose salt to their feed. Adding extra salt to their feed is probably the best option because laying loose salt out can lead to easy spoiling of the salt when it gets wet.
Your horse should be getting two tablespoons of sodium per day. The amount of sodium can increase based on their work level every day. For example, if they worked really hard one day, they will need more sodium in their diet.
What are the signs of sodium deficiency in horses?
- Unusual licking of random objects (in search of sodium)
- Decreased water intake
- Slower eating
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive yawning
- Difficulty walking downhill or backing up
Do horses need potassium?
In addition to sodium, your horse needs plenty of potassium. Did you know that as the seasons change, so too do the nutrients in the grass? Potassium in grass increases during cooler weather, while sodium, calcium, and magnesium decrease.
Horses need at least double the amount of potassium as sodium. Potassium helps regulate your horse’s body and blood fluids. If your horse has too much potassium in their diet, they will get rid of it by excreting it from their body. Salt is important to their diet because it makes them drink more water, making it easier for them to excrete the excess potassium.
How do I make sure my horse is getting enough water?
To ensure that your horse is getting enough water, purchase a Nelson Automatic Waterer. Our waterers measure the water intake of your horse, so you can be assured that your horse is getting all the proper nutrients.
Also, a horse will devour molasses sweetened salt blocks like candy. Although this may sound great, just like humans, your horse’s eyes can be bigger than its stomach. Horses are prone to biting off bigger chunks than they can swallow, making it easy for them to choke on these chunks. So be careful when giving your horse this tasty treat.