Hoffmans Minerals: Free Choice: Too Much?
I recently started my 2 horses on Hoffmans Minerals at the end of January. To ensure they were getting enough, I added 200 gr to their daily feedings. The one mare (Jade) stopped licking her bowl out, so I cut her back to about 100 gr, the other loved it so I upped her to 250. Just this week I stopped adding to their feed and put it out as free choice. It's disappearing! Someone is eating a lot. I guestimate I put out enough for 3 days and it was gone in one. I put out enough for two days today and we'll see what they do, but as I was leaving the barn, Jade was at the minerals already. I've gone through almost 1/2 a bag in probably 6 weeks.
The Hoffmans web site says free choice is fine and if they are eating more than 200 gr a day to put out salt. I do have salt out already and one of those red mineral blocks.
Selenium is only given to them in the Hoffmans (15mg/kg), unless there is some in the red mineral block. Their only other feed is free-choice hay and about 1-1/2 cups of 12% pellets daily.
I have always been a proponent of "they will eat what they need and leave the rest" but how long would it take for them to get their mineral needs up to snuff if they've been lacking for years? In other words, how long should I continue to leave the free choice out without worrying about negative side-effects, if any?
It looks like a decent product however, I would not be feeding it free choice. It contains "feed" products, wheat midds, rice hulls and wheat bran so they're eating it like grain. Someone is going to eat every last bit you put out. 200g is alot as well. I would think a "normal" maintence dose would be 100g or less. Just top dress it. The traditional red blocks do not have Se, the yellow ones do. Are you putting out regular white salt (loose) as well? The could be looking for more salt with the Hoffman's. (you can try 50:50 but they'll probably still power through it)
When you first put out this type of product, they will eat 2-3 times what they would normally eat for about a week and then it will drop dramatically. 6 weeks is too long.
Hoffmans says a maintenance dose is 250 gr for 1000 lbs of horse. That's what my horses are.
I use the red mineral and blue salt blocks.
They have not had it free choice for 6 weeks, only a few days. They have been getting measured doses for the 6 week period.
Maybe I should put some pickling salt out for them instead of just the blue block? They do use the blue block, but maybe pickling salt would help?
However, maybe they should continue to have the free choice for a full week and if their intake doesn't level out by then, go back to the top-dress method.
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The yellow block are Sulfur. Aren't the blue ones Se? All the blocks provide such a minisule amount of the mineral is it even enough to do any good? Put out the pickling salt. Maybe they're going after the minerals because they need more salt and for most horses the blocks are too much work.
Left Hand: From the alberta agriculture web site:
In general, "white" salt is plain sodium chloride. "Red" salt is sodium chloride with added iodine (also known as iodized salt, which is similar to our own table salt). "Brown" salt usually contains trace minerals, such as copper, zinc, manganese, iodine and cobalt, and may or may not contain sodium chloride. "Blue" salt contains sodium chloride, iodine and cobalt. While the colours help us identify these products, variations in colour and content do exist—best to read the label.
When buying a salt block, the motto seems to be "red is for horses, blue is for cows." Is blue salt harmful to horses? NO. In fact, the only nutritional difference between red salt and blue salt is the added cobalt in the blue salt. Both contain sodium chloride and both contain iodine. The blue cobalt-added salt was designed for cattle and other ruminants. The bacteria in the rumen use cobalt to synthesize vitamin B12. Similarly, the bacteria in the hindgut of the horse also use cobalt to synthesize vitamin B12. However, horses do not appear to require lots of extra cobalt in their diet to benefit from adequate B12 synthesis. Although the level of cobalt in blue salt is higher than what they need, it is not harmful to horses.
I have just started with Hoffmans and am not going to change at this point. Time needs to pass for effects to be properly recognized. I am not having any health issues whatsoever with my horses, so am not concerned. The manufacturer recommends either top-dressing or free choice. So I'm not "force-feeding" a free choice only mineral. Regardless, if the horse didn't want it, they wouldn't eat their pellets with the mineral on it. At least, my horses wouldn't. They have lots of hay and their pellets are a training / routine tool more than a dietary benefit.
Since yesterday, I have communicated with Hoffmans. Their email response is terrific. I am very impressed. BTW, I had the 250 gr top-dressing wrong -- should have been 150 to 200 gram. Anyway, their spokesperson told me it will take two weeks for the horses to get their systems in balance. If after that time, the horses are still "pigging out" on it, I should cut the minerals with salt 1:4 salt:mineral ratio. I'm just trying to determine the proper salt to use now -- pickling or iodized. I'm leaning to the pickling, but I need to find out again what iodine is for. That will help me to decide.
For tonight, I refilled their feeder with enough mineral for 3 days supposedly and put chunks of blue salt block in it.
Oh, and Hoffmans told me that eating a lot to begin with is common and it won't hurt them.
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