I had stopped at one of my large training barns to check on their horses’ diets, as they had just returned from a recent show circuit. The owner said the horses were doing well, but he was going to tweak their diets just a little. He had purchased a bag of selenium from a local milling company for top dressing a little extra.
Understanding Mineral Interactions in Horses
Unfortunately for him, the truth is that more is not always better. I emphasized the importance of maintaining specific ratios and levels of vitamins and minerals for optimal horse health. Randomly adding supplements undeniably can endanger a horse’s health. To ensure proper bone growth and development, it is crucial to maintain a ratio of 3:1 to 4:1 between copper and zinc.In young growing horses specifically, having this ratio out of balance could lead to Developmental Orthopedic Diseases. All horse feed supplements are not created equal. In the case of minerals, organic complexed trace minerals (minerals that are tied to an amino acid) have increased bioavailability over the oxide or sulfate forms.
Macro and Micro Mineral Requirements
Mineral requirements for horses are categorized as Micro and Macro minerals. Macro minerals include calcium, phosphorus, sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and sulfur. The diet requires these in gram amounts. Micro, or trace, minerals include copper, cobalt, manganese, zinc, iron and selenium. The diet comparatively necessitates these in smaller quantities, measured in “parts per million” (ppm).A part per million is equivalent to one drop of water diluted into 50 liters (roughly the fuel tank capacity of a compact car). Micro and macro minerals play an important role in bone development, muscle, hair coat, appetite, skin and hoof integrity. The key is to balance them in the horse’s diet.
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