07-15-2013, 05:33 PM
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Horses that lick and eat dirt are usually deficient in Calcium (Ca) and/or Magnesium (Mg), usually both.
If you are feeding grass or grass hay and the horses are not on a large pasture with varied brush and small trees as well as grass, they usually are not getting enough Ca and Mg.
Trace mineral blocks are useless as they contain no 'macro minerals' and only contain 'micro minerals' known as trace minerals. Horses are seldom if ever deficient in these, but Calcium, Phosphorus and Magnesium are frequently not balanced. Grass usually has a lot of Phosphorus (P) in it and Ca or Ca and Mg are usually low.
The same minerals are responsible for horses eating wood and stripping the bark off of trees.
We have always been able to find a loose livestock mineral that has 3 or 4 times as much Ca in it as P and it also has 2% Mg in it. It also has 150,000 to 200,000 IU of Vitamin A per pound in it. The one we have used for the last 10 years or so is labeled 'Un-medicated Wheat Pasture Mineral'. It stops all tree eating and dirt licking and eating.