What to do when horses don't like minerals!
Author: Carol Layton Date Posted:19 November 2015
It's always a relief when owners say their horses accept the minerals straight away but it is fairly common that it doesn't work that way.
Essentially you have to re-educate your horse's palate and this can take time in some horses.
Here is where you need to persevere, it may take some time to build up to the recommended amounts but it will pay off in the long run, especially for horses that are use to high sugar/fat feeds.
Go back to basics and start with no salt, no minerals and see if your horse will eat the main feed ingredients. Then add a pinch of minerals, no more than that and see if your horse will eat the feed.
I'd keep it that way for 2 or more weeks, however long it takes for your horse to become accustomed to the taste. Then try increasing them gradually over a period of a week for each increase until you reach the optimum dose and they should be fine from then on. If you stop feeding them for a while you may have to start again with a reduced dose.
Some people syringe the minerals in! That's pretty extreme, hopefully you won't have to do that.
Here are some suggestions for disguising minerals:
For non sugar sensitive/insulin resistant IR horses, you could use molasses or something your horse finds particularly palatable like copra or wheat bran and then gradually reduce. It may take some trial and error to find the right feed/additive. Hopefully down the track you can wean them off it. You should be able to.
Another suggestion some have found helpful is beet root powder, [beta (beet) vulgaris (common) rubra (red), obtainable from herb sellers though be aware that red root powder is not the same thing, (Caenothusamericanus), it's not known to be harmful but certainly isn't palatable.
Great suggestions here too: https://uckeleequine.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/the-equine-palate-and-picky-eaters/
- "Where's the good stuff?"
Mineral licks may seem like a good alternative but they always contain something to make the mineral more palatable whether that be molasses or copra or something high in sugar or fat. You can't rely on your horse taking sufficient minerals from a mineral lick on a day to day basis.
The bottom line is that minerals are NOT palatable, especially those in their basic form with no additives like my Balanced Equine Mixes.
Horses need time to adjust to the flavour. It can take perseverance but if the time is taken, it will happen and your horse will benefit in the long run.