Why do Horses Need Salt Licks?
Unlike humans, many horses are good at regulating their salt intake depending on genuine need, as opposed to a human need to munch salty foods as a source of entertainment and comfort.
Nonetheless, some horses actually like the taste of the salt lick and will over consume simply because they can.
Mostly, this is not a problem as long as the horse has sufficient access to fresh water and doesn’t have kidney problems. Drinking assists to flush the excess sodium and chloride from the system of your horse.
But, if your horse seems to be overly indulgent, then consider removing the salt block from their stall and instead, adding some salt to their feed.
An average horse needs about 50 grams of salt, every day. If you are using commercial feed concentrates, there’s high possibility some salt already added in, often about 0.1 percent.
You might need to add one tablespoon or two (15 to 30 grams,) as required, based on the nutritional requirements of your horse, i.e., weight, climate considerations, exercise levels, and season of the year.
The kind of salt you choose should again, be dictated by the specific needs of your horse and the form of supplementation he’s already receiving.
Table salt is good if the horse only needs chloride and sodium. An iodized salt better serves some horses. If your horse isn’t being fed supplements, you may have to consider a trace mineral salt.
How Do Salt Assists Keep Your Horse Healthy?
Salt assists in facilitating the movement of the nerve impulse through cells of the body. It also assists to transport particular substances through the cell membrane including amino acids and glucose.
As one of the main electrolytes, salt plays a crucial role in regulating the acid balance inside cells and maintaining cell hydration, also called osmotic regulation.
The greater the salt concentration, the more water will be drawn to the area. In fact, the system of your horse regulates levels of salt in the kidneys, digestive system and the cellular fluid to assist in keeping water levels balanced properly.
Though many horse people keep the salt block in their horses’ stalls, there’s really some debate about the efficiency of this custom. In fact, salt blocks were originally intended for use with the cattle, who’re blessed with very rough tongues.
Cattle are comfortable getting their salt needs met with a salt lick. Nonetheless, horses have much softer tongues, and at times end up with the sore tongues and inadequate salt intake.
Nearly four out of six routinely exercised horses get insufficient amounts of salt from the salt licks only. The solution? Either consider hanging a bucket in the stall or add salt to the feed of your horse or pasture shelter that contains loose, free choice salt.
Identifying the Signs of Sodium Deficiency
Salt deficiency is somewhat rare in horses when they are given loose, free choice salt. Horses naturally seek out salt replenishment as required.
Horses getting insufficient salt may opt to lick items which have lately been handled by a sweaty individual, given the amount of salt naturally found in sweat.
Symptoms of salt deficiency include decreased skin vitality, reduced water intake, slow eating and finally loss of appetite. Severe salt deficiency may result in difficulties with chewing, unstable gait and problem with basic coordination.
Why is Sodium Toxicity very Rare?
Horses hardly succumb to salt toxicity or excess salt intake, as any excess sodium is naturally excreted in the urine.
Nonetheless, if there are inadequate water supplies, it can become result in a serious problem. Maintaining your horse’s access to fresh, drinkable water is important in proper horse health maintenance.