Why Use Horse Salt Licks?
Just like people, horses require a variety of nutrients in their diets and one of these is salt. Most horse feeds do contain salt but only in small amounts. This is because salt can soak up moisture from the atmosphere. The additional moisture in the food can quickly cause it to turn mouldy so the alternative is to offer horse salt licks.
So most horses will require additional salt in their diets especially when they are being exercised or in periods of hot weather. When horses sweat they lose salt from their bodies and so their salt levels will need replenishing.
Our domesticated horses are living in much more confined spaces than they would have in the wild. Therefore they have a limited area to find the salt and minerals they require, where as in the wild they would roam till they found natural sources of salt such as mineral deposits. Instead we need to provide our horses with other opportunities for getting the salt they require, such providing salt licks.
Salt licks are the most sensible way to provide salt for your horse. Horses are generally pretty good at regulating their own salt intake and so it is best not to mix additional salt in their feed. If you do this your horse will be forced to consume salt as it eats, whether it needs more salt or not. Your horse can enjoy the salt licks whenever it feels that it needs them and many licks usually contain additional minerals that are beneficial. These may include selenium, zinc and cobalt which are essential if your horse is to remain in superb condition.
A Nutritious Diversion
Horse salt licks and mineral licks are available in a variety of flavours including garlic, mint and apple. There is sure to be something that your horse will enjoy from . The licks can be placed inside containers and then hung from the stable’s beams. These move around when your horse attempts to get at the licks and so can provide a welcome diversion when your horse is confined to the stable. So licks are the perfect way to stop your horse from becoming bored!
Salt Stone Lick
You can also find horse salt licks in the form of stones or rocks as an alternative to the pressed salt licks. The salt stone licks are considered one of the cleanest forms of salt and have holes cut through so ropes can be attached and then they are hung up within the stable or from a fence. They are much harder than other salt licks which means it is more difficult for horses to bite lumps off and they are more durable for outside use. The salt stone licks generally have a pinkish colour which comes from small amounts of natural minerals.
Salt in Winter
Salt licks are particularly beneficial in summer but should be provided all year round. Your horse will require up to 160g of salt per day in the summer if the weather is hot or if they are exercising heavily. They will still need up to 50g of salt per day in the winter months. If your horse does not receive enough salt then it may exhibit abnormal behaviours such as licking or eating dirt or trying to lick objects which may have salt on them. The horse could drink too little water and this can lead to impaction colic, so remember to always provide access to fresh clean water. It is also possible for horses deficient in salt to experience muscle problems and to decide to stop eating altogether.
Cold Horse Salt Licks
If you do provide horse salt licks for your boy or girl in winter, do remember that they will be less tempting for your horse as they will get very cold. Your horse might choose not to lick them in which case you can resort to offering loose salt but in a way that enables our animal to choose whether or not to eat it. Place the salt in a covered mineral feeder and do ensure that the salt is intended for animal consumption i.e. iodized table salt or plain white salt.