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Using seaweed with horses

Hey everyone!

New to this forum and had a question for y'all. I have been around horses all my life, and I have began caring for my own here within the past couple years. My friend (who is a fellow equestrian) was talking to me the other day and he mentioned something about using seaweed as a supplement for horses. He even mentioned some people are using as a substitute for their regular feed diets.

Is this something you have heard of? As I said, I have been around horses for the better part of 20 years and I have never heard of using seaweed in such a way. I know it has it's benefits when eaten by humans, so I guess it kinda makes sense.

What're your guys thoughts.
 

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Hey,

Seaweed can be incredibly high in iodine, easily leading to an overdose. Sure, it has it's uses and can be helpful as a supplement (especially if your horse is lacking), but I would be cautious and not feed it as a staple/substitute.
 

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The only thing I know about seaweed and horses is that I got a seaweed wrap once and my horses about licked my skin off until I guess it finally got sweated out. For feeding though I like to stick to the tried and true instead of getting on fad bandwagons.
 

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The bad thing about iodine is deficiency symptoms are the same as toxicity symptoms. Iodine content in seaweed can be very variable and without testing you just don't know what level you are at. Going with a supplement is safer but considering the variability possible I would wonder how accurate the levels a label reports are.
 

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There are feral horses somewhere that practically live off seaweed.

I found that very few of the horses would actually elect to eat seaweed when given the chance on the beach.
 

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I've never heard of people feeding seaweed instead of regular horse feed. But then again, in Arabia they used to feed them milk & dates, in India it was often spiced vegetables, even meat. And in the western world, we tend to feed buckets of cereal grain & other unsuitably high carb feeds...

As others have said, it is very high in iodine. It has a wide range of 'trace minerals' too, which is why some years ago people got excited about feeding it as a natural 'general nutritional supp'. But it is so low in everything else compared to iodine, I'd just feed it AS an iodine supp if need be. For eg. when I used a program(FeedXL.com) to balance my horse's diets years ago, they came out great in everything aside from iodine with the 'ration balancer' I was giving them. So I just added a sprinkle of seaweed meal to their feeds for that purpose. Currently though, I am using a powdered supp that has seaweed in it already, so they don't get extra.

The bad thing about iodine is deficiency symptoms are the same as toxicity symptoms. Iodine content in seaweed can be very variable and without testing you just don't know what level
There is a fair bit of leeway there though, and if they're in 'the range' it should be fine. That goes for most nutrients, as does the need for them to balance with others - eg. it's not enough to just provide 'adequate' Ca ~ it needs to be correctly balanced with P & with Mg or there will be health issues. But some nutrients are quite 'touchy', such as Selenium, and have smaller 'safe range' and can be disasterous in deficiency or excess.

Deficiency or excess symptoms - and problems - are also commonly the same or similar for other nutrient balances too. Eg. If you have too much Ca & very low Mg, you will still have weak, crumbly bones.
 

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@loosie . I should have been more clear. The levels in the actual supplements not the horse. Levels in the seaweed itself are very variable. I would be careful and find a trusted supplier that you can be sure small batch tests the supplements. A human grade supplement that carries the USP or NSF seal you know is at least checked for compliance yearly and spot checked.



A thousand pound horse would need 3 - 4 mg a day with 50+ mg be the level for toxicity. Iodine moves through the system slow enough that if you feed a higher level over time you build to toxic levels. I never did find studies for horses but human studies are easy to find.



This from Feed XL "So, how much seaweed is too much? Well, that all depends on the concentration of iodine in the seaweed. Eighty grams (3 ounces) of seaweed that contains 600 mg/kg of iodine will need to be fed to cause acute iodine toxicity in a 500 kg horse, while just 6 grams (0.2 ounces) of seaweed containing 8000 mg of iodine/kg will cause acute toxicity in the same horse." Again levels vary by species, growing conditions, availability, ability to concentrate.



If you know your horse is deficient then you should add but be aware of potential problems.
 

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Seaweed is very high in iodine, which means it could be potentially harmful. However if fed in small amounts, seaweed can be fed safely to horses and it can have some health benefits.
 
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