The soil, and thus the products grown from the land, often lack certain nutrients dependent on location. Once hay is cut and stored, often nutrients
are lessened. While I recommend sending in samples of your hay and pasture for an analysis to know exactly what your horse is getting, I know this
is not feasible for many. It is often easier to provide an overall vitamin and mineral supplement to ensure the necessities are covered, this is
especially true if your horse is on a grass or hay only diet, if your grain is not fortified, or if you feed less than the recommended serving of
commercial grain. If you do feed grain, you should note the vitamins and minerals it contains by looking at the guaranteed analysis, so please check
your feed label when deciding on whether to supplement or not.
The following are vitamins and minerals most often supplemented in a supplement. This should not be considered an all-inclusive list, just a general guide.
Vitamin A – supports bone growth, night vision, and a healthy immune system.
Can be toxic if your horse receives too much supplementation.
An adult horse requires 13.6 IU per pound of body weight, which converts to 13,600 IU for a 1000 pound horse.
B Vitamins – There are 8 B vitamins that work together and thus a B complex supplement is suggested over individual B vitamins. Together they
support the nervous system, digestive system, red blood cells, metabolizing proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and hair, skin, and hooves.
8 B Vitamins
Vitamin C – antioxidant, important for keeping connective tissue, bones, and joints healthy.
Horses produce their own Vitamin C, but if a horse is recovering from a wound, infection, injury, is a senior, or in stressful conditions, additional
Vitamin C may be of benefit.
It is recommended to not feed more than 20,000mg per day for a 1000 pound horse.
Vitamin D – increases the calcium level in blood.
Horses produce their own Vitamin D when they are able to absorb the sun, however due cloudy days, shorter daylight hours, and stalling Vitamin D sometimes needs to be supplemented.
3 IU/per day and per pound of body weight is often recommended, that equates to 3000 IU/per day for a 1000 pound horse.
Vitamin E – antioxidant, which means it protects against damaging free radicals and is important for a healthy immune system.
Works with selenium, but selenium can be toxic at low levels, so to be safe, you should know the selenium content in your horse’s diet. If you don’t
know, it may be best to err on the side of caution and provide only Vitamin E supplementation. Lush pasture often contains sufficient Vitamin E, if
your horse does not have access to lush pasture, Vitamin E should be considered.
D-Alpha tocopherol is the natural state of Vitamin E when supplemented, this is the preferred version compared to the synthetic version (dl-alpha tocopherol).
Maintenance requirement is 1 IU/day per pound, thus a 1000 pound requires 1000 IU/day
Vitamin K – helps blood to clot
Horses produce adequate levels of Vitamin K in their hind gut and will gain the required amount from pasture and hay. Horses that require supplementation can have up to 20 mg/day.
Calcium – integral mineral found in bones and teeth, helps to balances blood pH
Note that calcium in horses diet should be twice that of phosphorus. Since cereal grains and grain by products naturally have more phosphorus
han calcium, feed companies add more calcium to correct the ratio.
Sodium Chloride – balances blood pH, helps digest protein and fat, and regulates water in and out of cells
Magnesium – regulates muscle function, lowers insulin levels in blood
Grass and hay often lack sufficient magnesium, therefore a supplement may be necessary, especially if a horse displays muscle soreness or tremors,
is irritable, nervous, or inattentive.
Potassium – an electrolyte stored in muscles.
Most horses intake enough potassium through forage. In addition, most feeds have potassium added to them.
Cobalt – supports the production of vitamin B12.
Copper – works with zinc, necessary for healthy bones, cartilage, and connective tissue.
Chromium – supports the metabolism of fat and carbohydrates.
Iron – found in red blood cells, muscle tissue, and blood.
Most forages contain enough iron necessary for horses. 400 – 500mg is the recommended level for the average 1000 pound horse. Horses with insulin resistance should not receive supplemental iron.
Selenium – protects the inside of cells, supports the immune system
Depending on your location, some soils are deficient in selenium. Wisconsin happens to be one of those areas. With that said, one should be careful when supplementing selenium. Selenium levels should be assessed from all feed sources (forage and grain) to avoid selenium toxicity. Experts says horses should ingest between 1 – 3 mg. Those in heavy work can tolerate up to 5mg.
Zinc – works with copper, necessary for healthy bones, cartilage, and connective tissue. Also, fights infection and supports healing of wounds.
400 – 500ppm is the recommended level for an average 1000 pound horse. Zinc levels should be higher than copper levels and equal to iron levels.
HorseTech offers comprehensive vitamin and mineral supplements to compliment grass/mixed hay diets as well as alfalfa based forage diets.