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Salt to encourage drinking, How much salt is ok?

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  • Salt to encourage drinking, How much salt is ok?

    I would like to start adding some salt to my horses' feed to encourage them to drink more. How much is safe to give per day?

  • #2
    I just pour some on the edge near the feed boxes and they clean it up when they want

    I just pour some salt on the ledge near their feed boxes and allow them to clean it up at their own pace ~

    as I would not want someone salting my food we all have our own salt needs and desires ~
    Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


    • #3
      I add 1 TB. in AM feed and another 1TB in evening feed. I also add water to their pellet/supplement mixture so it's soupy and they slurp it up. Also you can get some Powdered Gatorade (mine love fruit flavored) and put one scoop in 1/2 bucket of water and mine guzzle it. Another trick is to wet down or soak your hay before feeding it. My horses love soaked hay and it gets more water into them, especially in winter when their drinking slows down.
      "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin


      • #4
        I just leave salt blocks where they can easily reach them. Plain white 50# blocks. They seem to spend enough time wearing them down.
        Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

        Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


        • #5
          I always saw 1 tbsp per day advised, so that's usually what I give. I also leave a bucket with loose salt in his stall. I don't add it all the time. It's cheap if you buy it at the farm store.
          It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.


          • #6
            Second Merrygoround's suggestion- we put the salt block and the mineral block next to water trough in the paddock.

            They self-serve. They lick more white pure salt block than the red mineral block, but it is important to offer both.

            They lick salt daily and the way they go about it is: lick, lick (x50), then move the head to the trough, drink a little, then thinking/meditating/savoring for a minute, then quitting or moving over to the salt again for more lick.

            As Zu-Zu says, salt intake needs are individual. I don't think it is particularly safe to "salt" them. They cannot tell you the way people can, when it is too much. The need differs from weather to weather, day to day, season to season, etc.

            PS: I don't have the problem, but, if you think, your horses do not drink enough water, you can experiment with temperature/ taste, etc. (provided, you have time/arrangement permits). There is info online. Some horses have their preferences (eg. won't drink too cold water). In winter, our horses really like temperature created by de-icer. They prefer to drink from that trough to the one in the pasture, that does not have de-icer in (even, if it is not frozen, I mean).
            Last edited by Emilia; Jan. 18, 2014, 11:53 AM.


            • #7
              According to FeedXL, my horses require ~2tb of iodized salt per day so that is what I feed them.

              They also have two salt blocks available to them and they use them lightly but daily, so I don't feel as if I'm over salting at all.

              They have been excellent water drinkers this winter so far. Hope they keep it up for polar vortex #2... ugh.
              Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


              • #8
                I have heard multiple times from horse nutrition experts that salt blocks were designed for cattle, who have rough tongues. Horses, with their smooth tongues, can't lick enough to satisfy their needs, hence loose salt is a necessity, either in the feed or out with the salt blocks.

                My vet recommended 1 tbsp twice daily for my ancient pony. She said it would not give him high blood pressure.
                My Equestrian Art Photography page


                • #9
                  I really like DailyRed (and DailyGold) if you are looking at adding salt. It's inexpensive, I gave 1TB in the AM daily.
                  AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                  • #10
                    I give a base amount of 2 TBs of electrolytes (1 part table salt to 1 part lite salt, which is half sodium chloride and half potassium chloride) to my 1200 lb horse. Be sure the troughs or buckets are very clean.


                    • #11
                      My mares are extremely good at sifting out any kind of feed additive that they don't want, so I toss a handful of loose TM salt onto their pellets. If they want it they eat it, and if they don't it will be sitting in a pile in the bottom of the feed pan after they're done. So I tend to be pretty generous because it's clear that I won't be overdosing them.
                      "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                      -Edward Hoagland


                      • #12
                        I wasn't happy with one horse who drank poorly, had a couple episodes of colic behavior with her over the years. I decided to just start adding table salt to her feed, in an effort to get her drinking better. It was a LOT easier than pulling out her tongue and pouring it on in times of stress! She did drink that way, but it wasn't fun.

                        I always kept a close eye on her stall buckets, to see if she drank well. Of course she also had water tank outside, and I did check it daily, still do, to see that the "normal amount" of water is consumed by the horses.

                        It just reached a point that I changed over to daily "salting the horse" because it was an easy method to make sure she was drinking well. I did notice a difference in how much she drank with salt and without. Very obvious. She was getting 2 tablespoons daily, large horse at 1500# and STILL eating her salt blocks, so I did not think this was an excessive amount of salt for her.

                        As mentioned, "Everyone SAYS" the horse KNOWS when they need salt and will readily try to get more when it is available. Those everyones, are usually among folks with big letters after their names. So my belief is that if horse is STILL working on salt blocks, the addition of loose salt to grain is NOT ENOUGH to overdose the equine. I also don't think that horses worked hard, sweated regularly always have enough salt in their diets. Those white salt blocks are HARD, and I would think their tongues would be bleeding before they could lick off enough when salt-deprived.

                        At our barn, horses in work that sweat often, can go after their small, 4# blocks and literally EAT them by biting off chunks of salt. They have often eaten an entire small block in a week, while in hard work, hot weather. They are only inside with the salt block during daylight hours, and this is not something they do often, just that it does happen.

                        With the occurance of another horse exhibiting "off behavior" one day, getting the Vet out to give him a DSS treatment to PREVENT going into colic, I have changed to giving EVERY horse a daily helping of loose salt. All are big horses, 1300-1500#, except 2 young animals. Big horses get one Tablespoon daily, flat, level in the measuring spoon. Young animals get a lesser amount daily. This is only give one time a day.

                        Reading here on COTH, the MANY folks seeing off behavior in equines with the BIG weather changes, temps drop or rise dramatically, big pressure changes with storms approaching, I am "connecting more dots" in our horse's behavior. The horse who was off, was just before a big storm came thru. Hadn't drank as well as usual. Spotting him acting odd, getting Vet out early, doing the DSS right off because it DOES take a bit of time to work, made the whole thing "just a bad day for Warwick" instead of a full-blown colic. Horse had NEVER been "off" in his life, so this was scary. Now he gets salted daily, and may get 2 Tablespoons of salt that day if his bucket is not empty or a major weather change is coming.

                        I am seeing better water consumption by all and want it to continue, especially in this cold season. The old mare who started things, ate her daily salt fine, and didn't have another colic issue with impaction after that because she drank so much better. Wish I had thought to do salting YEARS earlier!

                        I buy white "feed salt" at the elevator or Farm Store in the 50# bag for a pretty reasonable price. Lasts a long time. Close the bag tightly in summer, salt draws water from our humid air and liquefies the salt inside the bag. Way too expensive to buy table salt for 7 horses at the grocery store!!


                        • #13
                          When I asked my vet how much salt to add (context was anhydrous), his answer was that you can add up to the limit of palatability without doing harm.
                          I believe horses will pee out what they don't need
                          Of course that still doesn't answer the question of how much you should feed. I would guess in your situation no more than a tablespoon per feeding


                          • #14
                            Why don't you try Gatorade? My horses drink orange gatorade at $1 a 32 oz bottle. They get their electrolytes this way. Or you could try grain tea, by putting a handful of grain in a 1/2 gallon or less of water, letting the grain dissolve, and letting the horse drink it. You can do this over and over. I've gotten 12 gallons of water into a horse who was colicky by using the grain tea method. I use Seminole safe and lite, which really dissolves easily.

                            My horses also will drink Coke, which was invented for human stomach issues and is used by vets to help with colic issues, and beer. Of course not too much Coke, as it has a lot of sugar in it. And not too much beer, as a tipsy WB is not a pretty sight.

                            We've had significant weather changes, temperatures, for several weeks, so my 2 get a lot of Gatorade before they eat grain, and in their grain as well. All the drugstores know to order cases of Gatorade for me when it is on sale.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by cloudyandcallie View Post
                              Why don't you try Gatorade? My horses drink orange gatorade at $1 a 32 oz bottle. They get their electrolytes this way. Or you could try grain tea, by putting a handful of grain in a 1/2 gallon or less of water, letting the grain dissolve, and letting the horse drink it. You can do this over and over. I've gotten 12 gallons of water into a horse who was colicky by using the grain tea method. I use Seminole safe and lite, which really dissolves easily.

                              My horses also will drink Coke, which was invented for human stomach issues and is used by vets to help with colic issues, and beer. Of course not too much Coke, as it has a lot of sugar in it. And not too much beer, as a tipsy WB is not a pretty sight.

                              We've had significant weather changes, temperatures, for several weeks, so my 2 get a lot of Gatorade before they eat grain, and in their grain as well. All the drugstores know to order cases of Gatorade for me when it is on sale.
                              I've never heard about the coke - the carbonation doesn't make their stomachs more upset/colicky?

                              I've used Gatorade too - horses seem to like the orange or red one the most -- at away events I used to mash my guy's grain with it. Some for me, some for him
                              AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                              • #16
                                Vets at UGA vet school use it (and not just cause this is GA according to people who've hauled there for vet services,) and a vet in NY used it according to a Cother a few years ago on a thread. I used to ride my horses to the local store and buy a Coke, then share the Coke and a little bag of planters peanuts with the horses. My father gave them beer. Turns out both Coke and beer are good for horses. (That little notch between the teeth on the corner of the horse's mouth is just perfect for a bottle of Coke or beer, back when all Coke bottles were glass.)