The Natural Horse Vet Magalog

Page 20

Mineral Wise, Salt Poor The Need For Minerals AND Salt By Dan Moore, The Natural Vet® calcium deficiencies. We now know it is from high potassium forages and grasses. Similar situations causing abortions and important than minerals and salt for the health of your horse. gut problems often occur in horses. What happens is that the Salt is a mineral too, but because it is so important and because potassium spikes during cool, wet conditions and especially most horses are so deficient in it, we will discuss it by itself. after long droughts followed by rainfall and rapid growth. Even if your horse gets a “complete” feed and even if you Situations like frost and freezing are especially bad. Have you have salt or mineral blocks in the fields - THAT IS NOT ever had horse colic after a frost? Probably so...the reason is a ENOUGH! Literally, every function in the body requires sudden mineral change in the grass, not just frozen grass! minerals. Even the slightest imbalance can cause severe During these times, sodium, calcium and magnesium decrease, consequences and in my opinion, humble yet outspoken as it while potassium increases. This spike in potassium is often is(!), literally every disease is either directly or indirectly caused deadly. A major problem like this occurred in 2001 in the by an imbalance thereof! Midwest where reproductive losses occurred in thousands of horses, cattle, sheep and goats. This was severe in Kentucky. So what is the “Big Deal”? “My horses have a salt block already, Often, cattle were just found dead a few hours after frost and I have a mineral block in the pasture and, besides, I feed a freezes. Mineral blocks just cannot provide ‘complete’ feed anyway. My horses should be the minerals fast enough for such rapid fine, right?” Quite honestly - almost certainly changes in weather. Free choice, loose “Excessive potassium NOT! Conditions like founder, laminitis, minerals are a must if such problems are and subsequent calcium abortion, allergies, botulism, Cushing’s, to be prevented! and sodium deficiencies hypothyroidism, lameness, joint problems are almost always lead to truly the result of imbalances...Even a simple Excessive potassium and subsequent calcium other opportunistic and “easy keeper” in almost all cases is out of and sodium deficiencies almost always lead even infectious diseases.” balance on the minerals and salt. “Easy to other opportunistic and even infectious Keepers” just don’t get enough - period, diseases. Potassium promotes the overgrowth because they consume such little feed. When of saprotrophic (microorganisms that normally grow on dead they don’t get enough minerals (which is also true for vitamins, matter), commensal (organisms that live together but don’t enzymes, probiotics, etc.) their metabolism is even more harm each other) and pathogenic (microbes that cause disease) negatively affected and they become even more “easy keepers”, microorganisms in the plant itself. These diseased plants then eventually leading to such conditions as hypothyroidism, the source of pathogenic bacteria often produce and become insulin resistance, etc.. These are those “night mare” colic (such as that which causes botulism) and also fungi which as prone, laminitic prone, “just waiting to happen” horror stories! we all know, our horses are extremely sensitive to - especially in fescue grasses. After eating them, horses and other livestock Almost every horse in the world has a salt block. As I said, I face an overgrowth of these microorganisms, which rapidly say what I think and personally I think salt and mineral blocks grow and produce toxic by-products like ammonia. Excess should be outlawed. They are NOT your horses’ friends! A ammonia is deadly - especially to fetuses and the immune horse just can’t lick fast enough to get what he needs. If you system. Early and mid-term fetuses may abort, while those near have ever seen a horse chew at his block, chances are he is not term may suffer premature birth and/or septic weak births. By getting what he needs. Cribbing, chewing on wood and other the way, this problem is not limited to grass. Hay can also be behavioral problems are also likely signs. To make it worse, the source - especially from fields that are heavily fertilized. our horses’ mineral and salt needs changed with the weather -

Short of water and air, there is NOTHING more

just like the mineral content within grass changes with the weather. I once thought grass was just grass and that there was good grass and not-so-good grass. I never really thought about the chemical composition of grass changing as the weather changed. But that is exactly what happens and this change can be deadly! If you are a cattleman, I am sure you are familiar with Grass Tetany and Milk Fever, and the sudden death associated with its occurrence. These were once thought to be magnesium and


An extremely beneficial solution to high potassium forage and grasses is having readily available free choice minerals AT ALL TIMES! High calcium limes will help, but it often takes years to correct severely imbalanced soils. It is also important to consider that since sodium (the Na part of NaCl or salt) is so similar to potassium, horses often think they have enough sodium (but really have too much potassium) so they stop eating salt. This is especially so in the winter when they need it most. Force-feeding salt is a viable solution particularly in pregnant

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