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This week on the Feed Line: Electrolytes and Summer Salt

19 May 2016

With the competition season in full swing and even some warmer weather too, horses may need their electrolytes topped up. If your horse is a forage-fed horse then the major electrolytes of calcium, magnesium and potassium will be well supplied by the diet. The only one needing topping up is sodium. Most of you will allow your horses free access to a plain salt lick such as our Salt Lick Tub which can be left in the field for them to use as and when. Just remember to tip off the rain water. Not so easy when you are out competing! That is when our Summer Salt comes into its own. This is pure, granular rock salt and it comes in a sturdy tub with a useful measure. You can then add salt to the horse’s feed when you are away. Make sure he is drinking well. I have found offering a choice of plain and salted water works well, too. I use 5g per litre or a level tablespoon per gallon, or around a measure and a half per bucketful. Salt is important for horses as their sweat is saltier than their blood. Technically, they are termed hypertonic sweaters. If a horse has worked hard and lost a lot of sweat, plain water may not be fully effective at re-hydrating him, as the salt loss will result in the water he drinks making his blood too low in salt, so water will be lost to the urine in order to maintain the correct blood salt level – and he will still be dehydrated. Hence the need for salt as well as water. Provided the horse is drinking well, it is possible to pre-load with salt. Add salt to the last feed the night before or even that morning if he has opportunity and inclination to drink, prior to strenuous, sweaty work. It will then be in his caecum, with plenty of fluids, ready to use a few hours later. Never feed salt or other electrolytes if the horse is not drinking freely. You can find both our Salt Lick Tub and our Summer Salt in the Complementary Feeds section. Our Feed Line team is always happy to answer queries via email (info@simplesystem.co.uk), phone (01728 604 008) or use the online enquiry form on our website.

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