Ask Horse Journal: 07/09

Water Consumption

I am giving my insulin-resistant mare 2 teaspoons twice a day of a salt/electrolyte mix to encourage water consumption. The mare’s manure is loose, but not cow-patty loose. She won’t eat free-choice salt, and I noticed that she was drinking little water. She’s definitely drinking more now and urinating more, but the barn manager told me that the horse is going to be ill from drinking too much water and that she has a kidney problem. I don’t want to make my mare ill. Am I overdoing something’

Horse Journal Response: First, kidney disease is rare in horses. Second, that much of an electrolyte mix likely won’t cause changes in the manure or make her drink an abnormal amount of water. Monitor her to determine if she’s truly drinking too much water. An average horse will drink about 10 gallons a day, a little more in the warm weather and a little less in the cold. If she is consuming too much water, you should consult your vet. Out-of-control insulin resistance will make a horse drink excessively. However, she could also be getting too much grass. Try her with a completely sealed-over muzzle so that she can’t get any grass at all. And by all means talk to your vet, too, to see if any blood work is recommended sooner rather than later. Your mare’s well-being comes first.

Safe Iron Intake

What’s a safe iron intake for 1,200-lb. horse’ We have a lot of iron in our water, and I want to check the grain, supplements and hay levels.

Horse Journal Response: The NRC latest recommendation is no higher than 500 ppm in the diet. That would be 5,000 mg. for a horse taking in 10 kg. (22 lbs.) of feed a day but is over 10 times their actual requirement, which is at most 400 mg./day.

Equally important in controlling iron effects is the ratio of iron with other trace minerals. The ratio of iron:copper:zinc:manganese should be between 4:1:3:3 to 4:1:5:5.

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