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Salt

- Are you feeding enough?

* Scroll below for our salt range

Salt is a crystalline mineral mix made of two electrolyte elements, sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl), which together form the chemical formula NaCl. And as per the NRS (2007), the average 500kg horse has a daily requirement of at least 10g sodium and 40g chloride on a cool day doing no work, and at least double this on a hot day/in hard work/sweating.

We probably know salt best for providing essential natural electrolytes - the main electrolytes being sodium (Na), potassium (K), chloride (Cl), Calcium (Ca) and Magnesium (Mg) - with salt playing a key role in keeping the body fluids in balance, as well as normal nerve/muscle/kidney function and blood sodium levels. A horse cannot make its own electrolytes so they have to be added to the diet. NB - our UK grasslands already have sufficient potassium and calcium.

Sodium and chloride (salt) are the major electrolytes lost in sweat, followed by potassium - the natural diet for a horse, forage fibre (grass), is high in potassium and low in sodium, so adding sodium to the diet is crucial to balance the potassium ratios in both grass and in the body, and especially in hot weather. For electrolyte reasons alone we need to feed around 20-25g salt daily, to cover a baseline requirement, double if in hard work or sweating. 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.

There's one issue though - salt is a natural dessicant (drying agent); it attracts moisture which, as any biochemist will tell you, will denature a mineral/vitamin mix. This means that a mineral balancer 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. We do, however, include coarse salt in our VitaComplete range as it's feed-rate is that much higher than our EquiVita range, hence it's used much more quickly and won't sit in feedrooms for so long.

Will supermarket table-salt be okay?

I'm often asked this. Personally I wouldn't 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 human-grade Sea Salt from the Red Sea is certified by the Soil Association as both 'organic' and unpolluted.

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.

If you stir 'fine' salt through a feedbowl, the whole composition will taste salty - for Murf that was a stir too far - 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!

Nov'20 - Please note we've sadly made the decision to withdraw fine Sea Salt from our stock range, reason being that because it was so pure and therefore without any anti-clumping treatment, it therefore clumped almightily, with some clumps weighing more than 3kg and solid as a rock.

Proving both near-impossible and very time-consuming to hand crush (and even then leaving smaller clumps), we threw in the towel. Our apologies for the disappointment.

We do, however, have beautiful non-clumping, natural, unrefined, fine Rock Salt from the Himalayas.

Further studies

See Dr Kellon's post on 'Chloride – Critically Important to Your Horse' - how chloride is the overlooked electrolyte.

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?tab=rm&ogbl#inbox/FMfcgzGkZGjsHdwxmrxfDMLFdmKvzTld


Salt

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