How much is too much? (Salt)

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How much is too much? (Salt)

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  • How much salt for a horse
  • Horse eating excessive salt

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    12-28-2011, 01:09 PM
Green Broke
How much is too much? (Salt)

This may seem like a dumb question, but it is just something I have never encountered with any of my previous horses.
Okay, Yahzi will not leave the salt lick alone. At the moment, we only have a straight (white) salt lick out in the field. She has been with us a week, now and has spent more time at the salt block in that time than the other two, combined, in the past year probably. I am not exaggerating when I say she has easily cut it's size by 1/4
At first, I just chalked it up to the fact that she had not had anything available at the previous locaiton, but she has not slowed down, at all, on her licking. Is there a point at which this would become a concern? I have never had a horse that was this persistent about the lick. Are there possible underlying issues that would be of concern that would lead to this seeming over-consumption? What, if any, would be the possible dangers of too much salt intake? She is eating, drinking and eliminating all in what I would consider normal ranges and giving me no overt, outward concerns of anything being wrong.
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    12-28-2011, 01:28 PM
First of all, yes, this could be a problem, as to much salt intake can cause kidney damage and even failure. Does your horse get fed any grain? If so, look and see if there is an salt added in it, and if so, how much?

A horse with moderate work needs about 3 tablespoons of salt, but horses at rest with no work need about 1.5 tablespoons, and horses in heavy work about 5 tablespoons per day- based on a 1000 lb horse that only sweats when they are worked. This is all dependent on how much your horse sweats, so during summer if your horse sweats due to warm air, you may want to add another tablespoon of salt to your horse's diet.

How often do you work your horse? What is the environment like in summer and winter? How much does your horse weigh? You don't want to feed more than one tablespoon of salt per 200 lbs or 100 kg per day for a horse.
    12-28-2011, 01:36 PM
Coming from an environment without free choice salt or mineral, it took several weeks for our horses to realize they didn't need to overindulge. They always had available water and I monitored manure & urine and it worked itself out.
    12-28-2011, 02:06 PM
Good Tufts article

Dehydration and Electrolyte Losses in the Sport Horse : Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
    12-28-2011, 02:39 PM
Is there food available in the lot? Will the horse eat hay instead of the lick? Is he doing it out of boredom? I've got one horse at my barn that we cannot leave a lick in his stall. I let him do the initial OMG I love my salt lick routine... but he will LITERALLY eat a 5 lb salt lick in two days if you allow him. So he is allowed a lick only every other day while im cleaning for a few hours... every once in a while you'll get a nut :) lol
    12-28-2011, 09:39 PM
Green Broke
We have free choice hay (grass - orchard/timothy) and minimal grazing at the moment as the pasture is in winter mode. She is not currently receiving any grain. With the daylight cycle we are currently in, she is not in heavy work at all - I work M-F and get home with half an hour of daylight left, if that - so my main time to work her is weekends. She will not be a heavily used horse, she is meant to be a pleasure/trail horse for light/casual riding.
I think, for the time being, we will go with the rotational offering of salt in the field, salt taken out until/unless she starts to show a lessened urge. I think my primary concern was if she was demonstrating an excessive intake as a sign/symptom of some sort of deficiency - and then if the excess would create an issue.

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