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Horse Health

Feed extra magnesium

By 12/12/2014April 13th, 2017No Comments

Sometimes feed extra magnesium but always keep it within balance.

The uptake of magnesium is dependant on the presence of sufficient Sodium, which makes WESTERN SALTS an ideal feed for those horses that because of stress or their inherent nature are more settled by feeding a few extra grams of Magnesium per day above that normally recommended. Not only is there some magnesium within the composition but it contains low sodium chloride. An example of the need for adequate levels of sodium for optimum absorption of magnesium is seen in the prevention of Staggers in cattle. Every farmer knows of the importance of feeding extra magnesium in the spring but regardless of this every year sees problems and deaths are far from uncommon however, make sure the cattle get sufficient sodium as well as their extra magnesium and the problem finally goes away.

The same goes for Milk Fever which occurs due to the fact that when the sudden demand to produce milk after calving arrives the body cannot mobilise enough calcium to sustain it. It’s more complicated than that but that is the essence of the problem. One reason for this is an imbalance with magnesium and because there is so much less demand for calcium during the dry period the metabolism shuts the door on it, so when it comes to really needing to utilise calcium in a hurry it fails to do so.

During the sixties and seventies this balance between the major minerals was explored and it was found that restricting calcium and increasing magnesium during the 8 to 6 week dry period before the cow calved kept the door open for calcium absorption and such a sparing effect made it easier to utilise calcium when suddenly needed. To this end top dairy farms around the country especially those milking 3 times a day, started to feed a mineral from Bayer in Germany called Magnaphoscal incidences of Milk Fever plummeted.

With such farms it was the practise to feed increasing amounts of dairy cake as calving got closer this was called ‘steaming up’ and although it built up reserves for the oncoming lactation it was full of calcium to sustain milk production which had not started yet. It was a big change round but it worked and more and more farmers followed but because Magnaphoscal was expensive they set about lowering calcium and raising magnesium themselves, they too reduced Milk Fever so the thinking was sound but not quite as sensationally as with Magnaphoscal.

The theory took over from the product and most ordinary dairy farmers never knew about Magnaphoscal, raising magnesium levels was no problem but lowering something that had been a practise for years took some accepting and in all, those two things alone were enough to take on board. Although Na (Natrium) was even part of the name Magnaphoscal few bothered about Sodium and even academics that thought it had some relevance and were copying Magnaphoscal in cheaper mixtures just added Salt and it was not really till after the millennium that it was realised that the differences in Milk Fever levels from herd to herd was not just due to Higher Mg and Lower Ca but the also due to other balances with sodium (Cation:Anion balance) but not always with chloride which is of course 60% of salt.

It gets more complicated and even more boring from now on so perhaps it is suffice to say magnesium is important and just a little more can be helpful but do not consider it on its own. Remember – In nature we never see anything isolated but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it. – Goethe

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