First up, the importance of adding salt separately into the feedbowl
Salt is a crystalline mineral made of two elements, sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl) which are essential to feed salt in the diet for so many important reasons. Apart from keeping body fluids in balance and providing essential natural electrolytes which play a key role in normal nerve/muscle/kidney function and blood sodium levels, sodium is also needed to balance potassium levels, both in grass and in the body, especially in hot weather.
Sodium and chloride (salt) are the major electrolytes lost in sweat, followed by potassium, so we need to feed around 20-25g salt daily to cover a baseline requirement. If you prefer to feed electrolytes, make sure this amount of salt is included in the composition.
Salt also encourages drinking water; obviously for summer hydration but for winter too - horses drink far less water in winter so we need to help encourage them to do so. So we know how important it is to add salt into the feedbowl.
However ... as the biochemist team at Alltech have advised us, the problem with blending salt into a mineral/vitamin mix is that salt attracts moisture - it's a natural dessicant (drying agent) so the risk is that it will denature much of the composition. This means that a mineral mix blended with fine salt will not only lose its essential structure, but also shorten the shelf-life. We therefore don't include salt in our EquiVita range.
This means you need to add your own. Add a generous heaped tablespoon of salt into the feedbowl, double if in hard work or sweating. We do a range of certified unrefined sea salts, certified by the Soil Association, as well as Himalayan rock salts, available in bulk at great rates.
Will supermarket table-salt be okay?
I'm often asked this. Personally I don't touch the stuff as it's been processed to within an inch of its life, has anti-caking agents and iodine added to it, and bleached to make it pearly-white.
These days there's also the risk of toxic pollutants in processed salt such as plastic microparticles, so in my humble opinion, it's best to avoid refined salt and use natural, unrefined salt. To put your mind at rest, our Himalayan Rock Salt is unrefined, and our Sea Salt from the Red Sea is certified by the Soil Association as organic and unpolluted. Both salts are human-grade.
Natural unrefined salt is a nutritional goldmine, especially Himalayan Rock Salt, which makes it a tad more pricey than Sea Salt.
Top Tip re Fine Salt - because our salts are unrefined and come to us straight from the natural source, no anti-clumping products are added to the fine salt (coarse salt doesn't need this). This means that both our fine sea salt and rock salt may clump. However, this is easily rectified with a sharp twist with the hands or a handy rolling pin.
When it comes to our horses, the subject of 'higher iron in rock salt' seems to be a death-knell for Himalayan Salt, so let's try to dispel this concern.
Ultimately, remember we’re talking minute absolute-trace mineral levels of the entire composition - we’re talking the tiniest ppm levels (parts per million), with the Fe (iron) in rock salt coming in at around 35 ppm. The other fact of note is that rock salt is 97.41% NaCl (sodium chloride) so all the other nutrients form just 2.59%, which kind of puts it all in perspective.
PS - This study determines the mineral content of different types of salt, specifically table salt, Maldon salt (a typical sea salt), Himalayan salt and Celtic salt.
- the table salt and Maldon's iron reading shows <0.01%
- Celtic at <0.014% (also the lowest sodium amount)
- Himalayan comes in at <0.0004%.
Remember that these are trace amounts. For example, the 0.3% content of magnesium for Celtic salt implies that in human terms we'd need to eat 100-grams of salt to reach the RDA! Food for thought indeed ...
Top Tip for the fussy horse
If your horse is anything like my connie, Murphy, who hates the taste of salt, there's a cunning way to feed it and that's to opt for 'coarse' salt.
I found with Murf that if I stirred 'fine' salt through his feed, the whole composition tasted salty - cue one untouched feedbowl and one connemara's wobbly bottom lip. However, by stirring coarse salt through he woofs the lot, because he's only getting an occasional tiny salt crunch from the coarse salt nibs. Result!