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    Re: [RC] free choice mineral/salt supplement - Susan Garlinghouse

    You can look at the ingredients list on the label and see if they've used a
    carrier ingredient (usually some sort of grain by-product with a hefty
    helping of molasses) to make the block more palatable.  So, yup, some horses
    will just chow down and eat the whole thing like a great big cookie.  As
    Lisa already commented, just straight minerals often taste yucky (magnesium
    is especially nasty---range cattle supplements are virtually required to be
    mixed with something better tasting so the cows will eat it, otherwise
    they'll happily die of a magnesium deficiency right next to a magnesium
    It's not harmful as long as the kidneys are in good shape and plenty of
    water is available, but eating the whole thing doesnt mean the horse was
    deficient in minerals by that enormous amount.  I think the main point to be
    remembered about free choice minerals of any sort is that sodium is the only
    mineral that horses will consistently develop an appetite for, and even then
    it's not a particularly precise appetite---that is, if the horse eats 5
    ounces of salt, the true deficiency might be either more or less than 5
    ounces.  Any other minerals mixed in with the salt are coincidentally
    ingested.  So yes, those "extra" minerals will certainly correct any
    existing deficiencies, but they might just as likely contribute to excesses
    as well.  This might especially be true of a mix being supplied to endurance
    horses eating a LOT of salt, but not necessarily needing a tremendous extra
    amount of selenium, or calcium or whatever.
    BTW, there was a recent study published looking at the differences between
    salt-deficient horses offered either loose salt or a salt block.  Both
    groups were able to eat enough salt to correct deficiencies eventually, but
    the loose salt group ate enough salt to correct the deficiency within a few
    days; while the block salt group took over a week.  The loose salt group
    also had a greater water intake than the block salt group.  Useful info,
    especially for distance horses that might not have a couple weeks of down
    time before the next ride.
    Susan G
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