Balancing Minerals in Your Horse`s Diet

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I am trying to work out an optimum diet for my horses, but I’m stumped by the ratios for copper/iron, copper/zinc and copper/manganese. I end up with too much iron in the diet. How much iron is dangerous' I’ve read that feeding a mix of alfalfa and grass hays will automatically balance the major minerals for me. Is this correct'

Horse Journal Response

For your trace minerals, balance copper to iron, then bring zinc and manganese into the correct ratio for the new copper level. The 2007 National Research Council feeding recommendations for horses are that iron in the total diet should not be over 500 ppm (500 mg/kg). Hopefully, this new ceiling will get the attention of supplement manufacturers.

With the exception of young foals, iron deficiency related to diet deficiency simply doesn’t exist in horses. We’d like to see iron dropped from mineral supplements and feeds. As for mixing alfalfa and grass hay, it depends upon the individual hay, as the levels vary with where it was grown.

Hays grown in acidic soils may be low/borderline low in calcium, so the alfalfa would be effective as a natural source of calcium. But it’s certainly not an across-the-board rule of thumb.

Trail-Ride Diarrhea

My Quarter Horse gets diarrhea when we go for a trail ride. It never occurs when he worked in the ring or being longed. Any suggestions'

Horse Journal Response

It’s very common for horses to get loose manure when they are excited or fearful. For example, most horses have loose manure when being trailered. The reason is hormonal. Their adrenaline goes up and it makes their intestinal tract move more quickly. When motility increases, the manure does not stay in the colon long enough to absorb as much water as normal and the result is diarrhea ranging from just soft manure to watery. As he gets used to being on trails, this should improve.