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Thursday, September 20, 2012

What do you think of this idea?

During my last rotation through the vmth in livestock services I learned that one effective way to get a significant amount of salt into a goat's diet is to create a saturated solution of water and salt, and spray it on their hay.

Much like gradually increasing the amount of salt/electrolytes present in the mash, more and more salt could be sprayed on the hay, increasing the amount of elyte intake during a ride (and thus stimulating the thirst reflex).

Farley is up to one and a half doses of electrolytes per pound of dry feed (works out to one table spoon of salt per cup of dry feed)! An enormous amount that she doesn't even blink at whether at home or at a ride. I typically feed between 2 to 3 pounds per mash per "serving" in a ride setting, which means that she would be consuming up to almost 5 doses!! Not that I would necessarily put the max amount of elytes I could into the mashes, but not having to syringe the elytes and having her consume them on her own is something I really care about.

My experiment with Farley's mashes tells me that it would certaintly be possible to get a horse used to saltier hay. Now the question this a good idea worth perusing.


Footnote 1

Male goats castrated young have a smaller diameter urethra because of the absence of tester one. Yet another blow against their already too long and small urethra in the first place. Thus male goats casturated young are at increase for stones or being "blocked". It is generally recognized as a primary metabolic disorder with other components such as genetics, but the prevention is primarily nutritional, including significant salt increase, reduction of alfalfa etc. Really people, I havent found one good solid argument for young castrations and spayings for animals that are intended to live to the end of their natural life span (ie not production animals).


Footnote 2

Remember that in giving an endurance horse electrolytes at a ride you are not trying to replace the entire amount of elytes lost. That is a ridiculous amount. Instead, you are trying to influence the thirst receptor, which in the horse is less sensitive and lags behind the hydration curve compared to humans. But making the blood saltier, the thirst response kicks in and the horse will drink more. See my notes regarding Garlinghouse's AERC convention presentation on elytes and the dehydrated horse for more information.



  1. At what point do you worry about upsetting the homeostasis in the other direction?

    If the horse is consuming that much salt, he must also consume large quantities of water and all of that must be processed by his kidneys. My own vet actually warned against feeding electrolytes routinely rather than "as needed" based on work load and perspiration levels. Maybe dosing by syringe is the safer route.

  2. Val, I agree with you and would be concerned if I was doing this on a daily basis. daily she gets a ration balancer with no other additives and then on our work days, 2 to 3 times a week she gets.the balancer plus a pound.of.stable mix and the salt. this why I'm paying attention to the ratio of salt and feed. Right now she is getting I. 2 or 3 doses in a mash but considering during a ride she gets two to there pound mashed she would get more elytes in the mash but the concentration would be the same and thus palatable. But again I reiterate I would not do this every day. That two or there doses a couple times a week should not appreciable impact the kidneys. A bigger impact on the kidneys is feeding a diet high in alfalfa, a practice very common in horse owners in this area.

  3. Should say.that home.mashes are one pound so much smaller than the ride mashed. Remember you aren't working on quantity of salt, you are working on the salt concentration. Two different things.

  4. I routinely add rock salt (cheaper than elytes) to my horse's mash in the two weeks leading up to a ride for two reasons:

    Encourage pre-hydration - figure this will help ensure the horse hydrates himself before the trip and the ride.

    Makes sure that he's used to the taste of salt in his mash beforehand, so he doesn't turn his nose up at it during a ride. Of course, what usually happens is he doesn't want to eat mash at rides, he wants to eat hay, so the plan fails :)


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