Salt is one of the few minerals that animals will seek out in their natural environment. There are seven trace minerals essential in feed: iron, copper, zinc, manganese, cobalt, iodine, and selenium. Since livestock have a natural appetite for salt, but not for trace minerals, this makes salt an ideal medium to deliver these vital minerals.
Water softening salts are not intended for human or animal feeding. For some animals, particles may be too large and cause choking issues. In addition, some water softening salts may have additives that are inappropriate for animal feeds.
Sodium deprivation can be precipitated by dietary, climatic and disease factors and occurs under the following conditions:
- Rapidly growing animals given cereal-based diets that are inherently low in sodium
- Animals grazing pastures on soils naturally low in sodium
- Animals grazing pastures heavily fertilized with potassium
- Lactating animals, particularly cows, secreting large amounts of sodium in mild climates
- Tropical or hot, semi-arid climates, causing large losses of water and sodium in sweat
- Heavy or intense physical work that causes profuse sweating
- Animals with gut infections that cause diarrhea
When one or more of these conditions exist continuously for long periods and extra salt is not provided, sodium deprivation is inevitable.
If horses are not receiving the proper amounts of salt, they may develop unusual eating habits like consuming dirt or chewing on tool handles, trees, board fences or another animal’s mane or tail. They may also have rough hair coats.