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Horse Health

Feeding Your Own Home Grown Hay

By 30/08/2015May 8th, 2020No Comments

If you make your own hay or purchase from a single known source – it may well be worth checking out   the mineral content of this year’s crop with a lab analysis and if you ask Trinity Consultants to carry out the test we may invariably enclose the following handy notes along with other information when we send you back results.

Adequate mineral absorption and utilisation cannot occur without adequate protein (amino acids) being present in the diet.

Always consider balancing the Major Minerals first they are invariably the most important

Try to ensure that Phosphorus levels are up to requirement indeed slightly in excess if at all possible. Unfortunately all sources of Phosphorus are not equally available to the horse for all the metabolic functions since varying amounts of total phosphorus can occur in iron and aluminium bonds which cannot be broken down, this ‘bound’ or unavailable phosphorus (in raw rock phosphate)  can be released by acid treatment to form “dicalcium” and monocalcium phosphates  P levels in forage is as Phyto Phosphorus and not as straight available phosphorus and utilisation is dependent on further assimilation factors by the horse.

As Phosphorus performs such a range of critical functions throughout the horse’s body a deficiency can be the root problem of many mal-conditions

  1. a) Combines with calcium to form and regenerate and maintain all bones in the skeleton as well as hooves and teeth.
  2. b) Serves as a ‘carrier’ in the blood of protein, fats and especially blood sugars (carbohydrates) for all energy requirements.
  3. c) Serves as an activator and component in many enzyme and digestive juices.
  4. d) Greatly stimulates gut bacterial activity and efficiency.
  5. e) In balance with several other minerals, controls passage of nutrients through all the body (food absorption from the intestine, oxygen absorption in the lungs, growth of all muscular tissues etc).
  6. f) Balances with trace minerals, combines to activate several hormones essential to normal sexual activity.


Making sure P levels are correct will further authenticate the reliability of the 3:2:1 Ca: P: Mg ratio

Calcium levels can be higher but not too high as this will effect Mg utilisation

P levels can be nearly equal to Ca levels but never more than Ca

Potassium depletion can occur in the horse despite apparent plentiful provision in the diet so it is a good idea not to think about this mineral in pure supply terms, next to air and water Potassium is the most immediate sustaining consideration of which there is no storage at all outside the cells.

Horses with no appetite for salt (Sodium chloride) are often K deficient in one way or another

Provide salt as an addition to the diet and as a barometer for sodium requirement

Try keep Chloride levels at not much more that 1.5:1 with sodium as in Salt (Sodium chloride).

Low Sulphur levels should be avoided and can indicate low protein in the forage


Trace mineral balance

Analysis showing very high Iron and Manganese may mean there were traces of soil analysed as well as the forage and can be broadly considered as inert.

Always look a Copper and Zinc levels together. A low copper is much more serious if Zinc is marginal. Ratio Zn:Cu 4:1 to 6:1 Ratio

Ensure adequate levels of Zinc are present in the diet for a great number of reasons including proper absorption and utilisation of Vitamin E.

Iodine levels are notoriously unstable and cannot be trusted for any length of time

High Iodine values in forage are of no concern

High Molybdenum can bind copper into Mono or Di or Tri or Tetra thiomolybdate the last two going straight in to the faeces and preventing copper assimilation and utilisation absorption completely. This is by no means as bad as when it occurs in Cattle.

If Cobalt levels are low ensure adequate levels of Vitamin B12 are always fed if cobalt cannot be topped up in the diet.

Be careful of ad hock Selenium supplementation unlike other minerals and trace elements the difference between too much and too little in not great at all.

Rarer Minerals not analysed for such as Chromium, Boron, Vanadium, Nickel, tin etc may not be unimportant but requirement levels are hard to ascertain so if fed it is a good idea to rely on organic sources where the minerals have already be taken in a used by a living organism and correct valency and purity can be assured.

Ratios between different elements can sometimes be hard to get quite right on a practical basis if the analysis of the hay is peculiar if this is the case at least make sure that there is sufficient of the lowest mineral  in the ratio

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