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JustWingIt 01-15-2013 05:28 PM

Feeding Electrolytes
 
So its the dead of winter up here in Maine, and I am getting all itchy and excited for show season. I was looking over class lists, and planning out my show calendar when I though of electrolytes. I have decided to feed my gelding electrolytes for the summer because he is a heavy sweater and we are going to be going to many different places for shows. Then I thought, I wonder if horses need electrolytes in the winter? My gelding works hard at least 4 days a week, but he is body clipped so doesn't sweat. So he wouldn't have any real need of electrolytes during the winter right? Because they replace what horse lose through sweat? Did I just answer my own question? Sorry if this is a dumb question, but I am trying to learn more about horse's diets and nutrition as it really interests me.

Also, on a side note, has anyone ever fed Summer Games Electrolyte? I was looking at all the different ones for this summer. My guy is a picky eater, has any one ever had a picky eater that they fed electrolytes? Which did you use?

loosie 01-16-2013 05:02 AM

Below is an article, shared with permission, on feeding electrolytes from nutritionist Dr Nerida Richards & the mob at FeedXL...


Electrolytes
Dr. Nerida Richards Newsletter# 40 March, 2012

As a horse exercises its muscles generate heat. To prevent its body from dangerously overheating,
the horse sweats to allow evaporative cooling to dissipate the heat being produced. As a horse
sweats, water and electrolytes, including sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium are
lost from the body.
For effective sweating to occur, the horse must be well hydrated and have an ample supply of
electrolytes in its body. The electrolytes and water lost through sweating must be replaced during
exercise to prevent electrolyte depletion and dehydration. This newsletter will look at what
electrolytes are and why they are important, how much ‘electrolyte’ a horse needs, where horses
get electrolytes from in the diet and when to use an electrolyte supplement.

What are electrolytes?
Very simply, electrolytes are minerals, which, when present in a watery solution like body fluids,
become positively or negatively charged particles that have the ability to conduct electricity.
Electrolytes maintain fluid balance and circulatory function, facilitate muscle contractions, trigger
nerve functions and maintain the body’s acid‐base balance. The most important electrolyte minerals
are sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

What happens if a horse becomes electrolyte deficient?
Electrolyte deficiencies are associated with fatigue, muscle weakness, lethargy and reduced feed and
water intakes, resulting in weight loss and dehydration. In addition, electrolyte deficient horses may
experience reduced sweating, which can result in hyperthermia (over‐heating) and compromised
performance. Studies in England have also linked electrolyte deficiencies to the incidence of
recurring bouts of tying‐up (Harris et al. 1992).

Please Note: severe electrolyte deficiency can result in complete exhaustion, colic, synchronous
diaphragmatic flutter (commonly known as the ‘thumps’), collapse and death if not treated. Severe
electrolyte deficiencies are a veterinary emergency requiring IV fluids, electrolytes and specialist
care so please call your vet immediately if you suspect your horse is acutely dehydrated and
electrolyte deficient.

How much ‘electrolyte’ does a horse need?
All horses have a small daily requirement for electrolytes to replace the obligatory losses from the
body in the urine and faeces. This requirement is termed a horse’s ‘maintenance requirement’ and is
reflected in FeedXL’s recommended daily intakes for horses not in work.
As a horse exercises its muscles generate heat. To prevent its body from dangerously overheating,
the horse sweats to allow evaporative cooling to dissipate the heat being produced. As a horse
sweats, water and electrolytes, including sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium are
lost from the body.
For effective sweating to occur, the horse must be well hydrated and have an ample supply of
electrolytes in its body. The electrolytes and water lost through sweating must be replaced during
exercise to prevent electrolyte depletion and dehydration. This newsletter will look at what
electrolytes are and why they are important, how much ‘electrolyte’ a horse needs, where horses
get electrolytes from in the diet and when to use an electrolyte supplement.
Sweating increases a horse’s requirement for electrolytes above their maintenance requirement, as
large quantities of sodium, potassium and chloride and smaller quantities of magnesium and calcium
are excreted in sweat (amounts are given in the table below):

Electrolyte Sodium Potassium Chloride Magnesium Calcium
Quantity in sweat*
(grams/L)
3.1 1.6 5.5 0.05 0.12
* Estimates given by Harris (1995)

The amount a horse sweats, and therefore its electrolyte requirement, will be determined by the
amount of work it is doing, the intensity of work it is performing and the climatic conditions in which
the horse lives and works. Individual horses also vary considerably in their tendency to sweat. As an
indication, in a moderate climate, a racing thoroughbred will lose between 5 and 10 litres of sweat
during a daily workout and an endurance horse will excrete between 5 and 10 litres of sweat per
hour when travelling between 12 and 18 km/hour. Sweat losses of up to 15 litres/hour can occur
during high intensity exercise where horses are travelling at between 30 – 35 km/hour.
FeedXL calculates your horse’s electrolyte requirements for you based on a sweat loss of 1.6 L per
day for horses in light work, 4.4 L per day for horses in moderate work, 6.7 L per day for horses in
moderately heavy work and 8.9 L per day for horses in heavy work.

How does climate affect requirements?
Hot and particularly hot and humid climates increase a horse’s need for electrolytes as horses will
sweat more under these conditions. As a general guide, if the temperature is 30°C (86°F) supply
140% of your horse's recommended daily intake (RDI) calculated by FeedXL for sodium, potassium
and chloride . If the temperature is 35°C (95°F), supply 170% of your horse's calculated requirement
for these minerals and if the temperature is 40°C (104°F) or over you should supply 200% of their
requirements. Also be sure to have a salt lick available at all times.

Where do electrolytes come from?
Pastures and forages are almost always a rich source of potassium and are commonly a good source
of magnesium. However they tend to contain variable and often unknown concentrations of chloride
and typically low concentrations of sodium. Common table salt contains 39% sodium and 61%
chloride and is frequently used as a readily available, palatable and cheap source of these
electrolytes in a horse’s diet. Potassium chloride (50% potassium, 47% chloride) can be used to
supply additional potassium and chloride where required and magnesium oxide is a readily available
and cost effective source of magnesium where additional magnesium is needed. Grains contain only
very small amounts of all the electrolyte minerals and it is high grain diets that are most commonly
‘electrolyte deficient’.
Of course there are also many electrolyte supplements on the market that do provide electrolyte
minerals for horses. It is very much a case of buyer beware when purchasing electrolyte
supplements as many are no more than a slightly salty bucket of glucose. If you choose to feed an
electrolyte supplement use FeedXL to help you find and use good, economical products.

When should you feed an electrolyte supplement?
In many situations horses can get enough electrolyte minerals from a forage based diet that has
plain table salt added for additional sodium and chloride. Some horses on high grain/low forage
diets may benefit from an electrolyte supplement that contains potassium or need potassium
chloride added to their feeds. On a day to day basis though, most horses won’t need a commercial
electrolyte supplement.
Commercial electrolyte supplements are however very handy in situations where your horse is away
from home, not grazing or eating as much hay as he normally would and/or working a lot harder or
longer and sweating more than usual. Well formulated supplements (ones that contain the same
proportion of electrolytes as those found in equine sweat) can be used in these situations to quickly
replace electrolytes lost in sweat. Where prolonged exercise occurs (for example endurance riding or
long days of stockwork or trail riding) it may be necessary to provide some electrolytes during the
period of exercise.
Well formulated electrolyte supplements will provide enough electrolyte minerals in a 60 gram dose
to replace the salts lost in 5 litres of sweat. There is debate over how much electrolyte replacer you
should give to working horses with no firm recommendations available given it does depend so
much on the climate, intensity of work and the horse as an individual. If a horse is sweating
consistently over a long period of time AND will have access to water frequently you can give 60
grams of electrolyte every hour to two hours. If water is not available on a frequent basis give 60
grams of electrolyte when you know the horse will have access to water and can have a good drink.
Don’t give more than 60 grams per dose as you may overload the horses ability to absorb the salts
you give.
Well formulated electrolyte supplements will contain 20 – 25% sodium, 43 – 48% chloride, 10 – 12%
potassium and smaller amounts of magnesium and calcium (normally 1 to 2%). These higher quality
products will also have less than 20% glucose or other base or filler.

Some practical tips for using electrolyte supplements
1. Always make sure your horse has access to water after being given electrolytes as they will
get thirsty and need to be able to drink. Failure to provide water will result in dehydration
because the salts will pull water out of the body and into the gut.
2. If it is possible, wait for your horse to have a drink of water before giving it electrolytes.
3. Never give electrolytes to an already dehydrated horse that isn’t drinking as you will worsen
the dehydration. Call your vet in these situations.
4. Don’t add electrolyte supplements to a fussy horse’s feed as chances are it won’t eat them.
Instead mix the electrolyte with apple sauce and give it over the tongue (beware they will
spit it all over you!).
5. During endurance rides where feed intake is also important, allow your horse to eat before
giving him electrolytes as a paste as it will often stop a horse from eating for a little while
which may affect your gut noise scores.
6. Always have a salt lick available to allow your horse access to extra sodium and chloride at
any time.
7. If you want to use an electrolyte to help make your horse drink when away from home try it
out at home to see if it works – if you dose your horse with electrolytes and he doesn’t drink
he will actually end up more dehydrated than when you started.
8. To increase water intake, offer slightly salty water to your horse as its first drink after
exercise. Research has shown (Schott et al 2003) that horses who drink slightly salty water
(0.9% salt, 90 grams of salt per 10 litres of water) initially will drink more water and
rehydrate themselves faster after exercise than horse who drink plain water as their first
drink. You will likely need to train your horses to drink the salty water, a touch of molasses
might help.

Dr. Nerida Richards is FeedXL's resident equine nutrition specialist and horse nut. With a degree in
Rural Science, a doctorate degree in equine nutrition and going on 12 years of full time, on the
ground experience in feeding all types of horses Nerida is able to help FeedXL members solve any
problem they may come up against with feeding their horses.
© 2012 — All rights reserved
A joint project between Equilize Horse Nutrition Pty Ltd and X'Prime Pty Ltd

JustWingIt 01-16-2013 08:17 AM

Wow thanks for that!!
Posted via Mobile Device

Saddlebag 01-16-2013 08:26 AM

BTW are you offering your horse loose salt? Research has proven that horses will ingest more loose salt than they will from a lick. The lick makes the tongue sore therefore the horse doesn't get as much as it needs.

loosie 01-16-2013 05:36 PM

Below is an article, ... Hmpf! stupid computer, said it didn't send it last night, so just reseent!

loosie 01-16-2013 05:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Saddlebag (Post 1846735)
BTW are you offering your horse loose salt? Research has proven that horses will ingest more loose salt than they will from a lick. The lick makes the tongue sore therefore the horse doesn't get as much as it needs.

Agreed. And in a salt & mineral lick, they get negligible amounts of anything else either. Other minerals are best provided in the feed or loose too. Over here at least, the soil/pasture is generally too high in salt anyway, so I would not put/give salt in their feed, but do put out a salt rock lick, for 'Justin'. If I was in a low-salt area though, I'd put out loose salt.


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