Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mineral or Salt??

I was at a cutting horse show last weekend and was asked a good question that I thought might be of interest to other horse owners. The question was, "If I have good pasture and mature horses that aren't being ridden very much, do I need to give them anything other than a trace mineral block? The answer is, Yes. Check the label on your trace mineral (TM) block...they are 98% salt in most cases. If it is hard as a salt block, it is a salt block. TM salt blocks have trace amounts of trace minerals, they don't have macrominerals like calcium or phosphorus and they only have enough of the trace minerals like copper and zinc, to make them red or brown. A horse can't eat enough of one of these blocks in a day to meet their mineral requirements or make up the difference between requirements and what pasture provides. So, if you have a horse that is not growing, working, reproducing or lactating and pasture is keeping them in good shape, they still need at least a true mineral source, Purina FreeBalance Horse Mineral being a great one. FreeBalance mineral is 95% mineral. You can easily tell the difference between it and a TM salt block, similar in color but FreeBalance is a softer block because it is only 5% salt, you are paying for mineral, not salt with these blocks. FreeBalance is also available in a loose form if you prefer. Now, free-choice mineral (along with a regular salt block) is a much better option than no mineral or a TM salt block, but if you really want to be sure that your horses eat every day exactly what they need, check into Purina Nature's Essentials Enrich 12 or Enrich 32. Enrich 12 if your pasture is great quality or you are feeding alfalfa hay, Enrich 32 if your pasture is marginal quality or you are feeding grass hay. These are concentrated "forage balancers" that meet nutritional requirements when fed at 1 - 2 lbs per day. Because of the low feeding rate, they don't contribute a significant amount of calories but they provide much more nutrition than if you fed 1 - 2 lbs of oats or even of a very well balanced feed (most feeds are formulated to be fed at a minimum of 3 - 6 lbs per day). When you feed a low amount these feeds, you are shorting the nutrition. With Enrich products you can meet the nutrition without excess calories. So, for your pasture ornaments that maintain good condition on hay or pasture alone, provide a true mineral source along with a regular salt block and access to clean water.

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