Ask the Vet – How much loose salt should a horse get everyday?

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DAN: “How much loose
salt should I feed daily? I live in Florida, so
my horse occasionally sweats and seems
to not drink much. Please help.” DR LYDIA GRAY: So did you
take some sort of chemistry when you were in college? DAN: I’d probably try to avoid
that as one of my sciences. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK,
well, we’re going to do a chem 101 here today
and a little bit of math. DAN: OK. Oh. [LAUGHTER] DR LYDIA GRAY: So
according to the NRC, which I quote probably
almost every video– it’s the nutrient
requirements of horses– a horse just standing
in a pasture, and eating, and
blinking, and breathing needs 10 grams of sodium a day. DAN: 10 grams of sodium a day. OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: If that
horse is in heavy work, is exercising and sweating,
then up to like 40 grams, so four times as much. Now, there’s very little sodium,
and chloride for that matter, in the horse’s
regular, natural diet. Hays and pastures and grains–
there’s just not a lot of salt, not like human food. Ours is loaded with it. And then we should say
that salt, the term, is made up of
sodium and chloride. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: See? DAN: I did take that. OK, maybe I did take chemistry. I’m in. DR LYDIA GRAY: And then
now its where it gets hard. If you look at a molecule of
salt, which is sodium chloride, 40% of that molecule is
sodium and 60% is chloride. You with me? DAN: I’m with you– 40/60. Gotcha. DR LYDIA GRAY: So if
I am trying to give my horse 10 grams of salt,
how many grams of sodium am I giving him? DAN: He’s only
getting 40% of that. DR LYDIA GRAY: So 4. DAN: Yes. I wasn’t going to do the math. I could only say 40%. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. Yeah, so how do I get 10
grams of sodium in my horse? Doing the math, I have to
give him about 28 grams of salt. That’s about an ounce. DAN: OK, so one ounce of salt. DR LYDIA GRAY: And
roughly two tablespoons. So we’ll make this
super practical. DAN: I can do those things. DR LYDIA GRAY: Right, yeah. So that’s what she
wanted to know. Now the problem with salt– and I’m sure you’ve experienced
this– back in the day, when we filled up a salt shaker, we
put a little rice kernel in it because salt is hygroscopic. DAN: I love when you use
big words in the morning. DR LYDIA GRAY: In the morning. [LAUGHS] It means it
attracts water from the air. And so once you open your Morton
container of salt in the barn, really soon, it just turns
into a big, hard rock, and you can’t use it. So the better thing to do
is we put salt in pellets to make them tastier,
and last longer, and be more stable in the environment. And you can also buy them in
SmartPaks, and even better. And so I think it’s
called SmartSalt Pellets. And that would be the ideal way
to get your horse’s daily salt requirement into him
with no muss, no fuss. DAN: Because even sometimes just
top dressing with loose salts, sometimes it falls to
the bottom of the pan, or the horse maybe
doesn’t like it as much, so it makes it a little
more palatable for them. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. And then a lot of people
are like, well, I’m just going to set out a salt
block– one of those big 50 pounders. But those are made for
cattle’s rough tongues. Now, some horses
like them just fine. But even those horses, you don’t
know how much they’re licking. DAN: If they’re getting
their full requirement. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. And then there’s horses who
are like, “Oh, my tongue. I don’t want to,” so
they don’t lick them, and then they’re not getting
their daily requirement of salt. So I like her idea
of loose salt or top dressing salt in some form, and
SmartSalt Pellets is a great way to do it. DAN: OK. So at least an ounce a
day to get your guy going.


One Response

  1. EquineTrainr

    November 8, 2019 4:58 pm

    I buy bulk white salt from my feed store and keep it in a large barrel that has a lid. I have not had a problem with it getting hard, even during monsoon. We chose white salt because in our area the water has a lot of minerals (from the ground as we use well water.) Most get one ounce. The yearling gets less and I have a couple whose natural sodium level is already high.


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