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Mineral and vitamin supplementation: what is the benefit for horses? Logo PaskaCheval

Horses have nutritional needs that cannot always be met with a basic diet. Among the nutrients that are essential for metabolism, we find minerals and vitamins

What are minerals?

Minerals, along with vitamins, proteins, fibres, fats, starch or water, are fuel for horses. Minerals are divided into two large families: macro-elements (calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and sulphur), found in large quantities in the body, and trace elements (iron, copper, zinc, manganese, cobalt, selenium and iodine), found in much smaller quantities, but just as important. At least 12 vitamins can be added to this: vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B-group vitamins. Assimilated by the body, they are all involved in the essential functions of both humans and horses. Each of them plays a specific role and is involved in various metabolisms. They stimulate the immune system, are involved in muscle, cardiac and digestive functions, promote growth, etc.

Why should you give your horse mineral and vitamin supplements?

It is possible to observe vitamin and mineral deficiencies and imbalances. This will affect the horse's condition over the medium term, or even contribute to the development of lesions or diseases such as osteochondrosis or osteoporosis. It should be noted that the body does not produce all of these minerals and vitamins on its own. Although feed meets some of the nutritional needs, it does not necessarily cover all of them. Not all feeds and fodder have the same nutritional qualities. Moreover, not all horses have the same needs. Some, because of their age or their activity, have specific nutritional needs. This is the case for growing horses, in the breeding season or engaged in significant physical activity. As a result, the diet of these horses will be monitored individually. Supplements will often be recommended, in the form of ‘MVM’ (multivitamin and mineral) supplements. 

How to properly supplement your horse with minerals

The addition of mineral supplements to the diet needs to be carefully thought out. Several questions need to be considered. What is the physiological condition of my horse? Does my horse have specific needs? Does their diet cover their nutritional needs? First, the ration should be studied, and then the horse’s general condition should be determined, perhaps even combined with blood or horsehair tests. Several indicators of vitamin or mineral deficiencies may be observed: the horse licks the walls, eats dirt or sand, declining hoof quality, dull or patchy coat ... If there is an imbalance, salt licks, which are widely used and contain high sodium chloride contents, can be supplemented by several types of multivitamin and mineral supplements (in powder, granule or lick stone format, etc.). But be careful, watch out for overconsumption. Make sure you provide the correct amount of micronutrients. Not too much, not too little.

Horse eating out of a bucket

The type of ration determines what mineral supplementation should be provided. Thus, horses with a so-called traditional basic ration, composed exclusively of cereals and fodder (grass and/or hay), must be supplemented continuously to make up for any lack or imbalance in trace elements, minerals and vitamins. Horses fed with a supplemental fodder feed (also called ‘complete’ feed) may also be given additional supplements, depending on their needs and the quality of the feed, either throughout the year or over a 10-day period once every three months with the changing of the seasons. Last, for horses (mainly breeding and racing) fed with cereals and a supplemental cereal feed, continuous MVM intake will be advised in general.

It should be known that MVMs contain an optimised dose of micronutrients. They are based on key nutritional ratios: the calcium to phosphorus ratio ‘Ca/P’ (the amount of calcium divided by the amount of distributed phosphorus, usually between 1.5 and 2) or the zinc to copper ratio ‘Zn/Cu’ (the amount of zinc divided by the amount of distributed copper, between 3 and 4). 

Multivitamins and mineral supplements (MVM) are used to rebalance rations and provide the correct dose of micronutrients. This is the case with Paskamine for athletic horses and Paskabreeding for breeding horses, two supplements formulated by Paskacheval. Find them at your nearest distributor.

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Paskacheval is a range of plant-based feed supplements and external care products designed to enhance the performance and well-being of every horse.