Proper vitamin and mineral nutrition is critical to maintaining your horse’s health and well-being. But how do you ensure that your horse gets everything they need to balance their diet?

Horses on a forage-only diet universally have deficiencies in key minerals, including sodium, copper, and zinc. Even if you provide your horse with a salt or mineral lick, the chances are that their diets will under-supply nutrients required for optimal health.

This is why a vitamin and mineral balancer is necessary for almost all horses. Feeding a concentrated mineral supplement can benefit your horse through improved coat condition, stronger hooves, improved stamina, mood regulation, and better performance.

But many horse owners struggle with choosing the best mineral supplement for their horse. Options vary in terms of supplement format, feeding rate, ingredient sources, cost, and feeding rates.

The best way to know which vitamins and minerals to supplement in your horse’s diet is to work with a qualified equine nutritionist. A nutritionist can help you analyze your feeding program and your forage to identify nutrient gaps and imbalances.

Does my Horse Need a Mineral Supplement?

All horses need a supplemental source of vitamins and minerals in their diet to avoid common deficiencies.

Deficiencies in key nutrients over long periods can result in various problems, including digestive issues, muscle disorders, impaired reproductive health, poor hoof quality, and reduced resistance to disease.

The vitamin and mineral requirements for horses were established in 2007 by the National Research Council’s Nutrient Requirements of Horses. [1] This document lays out consensus recommendations for feeding horses depending on age, weight and physiological status.

NRC guidelines describe the minimum amounts of specific nutrients required in the diet to avoid deficiency based on peer-reviewed scientific research.

The ratios of minerals in the diet must also be taken into consideration to meet your horse’s needs and support optimal health and performance.

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Common Deficiencies

Unfortunately, many horses are not getting NRC-recommended amounts of key nutrients. In a 2018 study evaluating the diets of 200 horses, over 90% of horses were found to be deficient in at least one major trace mineral or vitamin. [2]

A 2021 Mad Barn review of over 6,500 equine diets found that the most common nutrient deficiencies were:

  • Sodium (70.9% of horses under requirement)
  • Vitamin E (57% of horses under requirement)
  • Selenium (49.3% of horses under requirement)
  • Zinc (43.1% of horses under requirement)
  • Copper (31.9% of horses under requirement)
  • Manganese (32.4% of horses under requirement)

Feeding a Balanced Diet

Equine diets should primarily consist of fibre-rich forage. Hay and pasture grasses typically provide adequate calories and protein for horses and support optimal gut health.

However, forage-only diets are almost always insufficient to meet a horse’s salt and trace mineral requirements. Forage contains varying levels of vitamins and minerals depending on soil composition, species of forage, region, and other environmental factors.

Unfortunately, even many horses being fed commercial feeds and ration balancers have undetected vitamin and mineral deficiencies in their diets due to underfeeding of these products.

Complete feeds are not very nutrient-dense and are formulated to be fed at 3 – 5 kg (7 – 11 lb) per day. If you feed less than this daily, the actual vitamins and minerals your horse receives will be well below NRC requirements.

Concentrated Mineral Supplements

Instead, nutritionists recommend feeding a concentrated vitamin and mineral supplement with fewer fillers and higher levels of nutrient fortification. Concentrated mineral supplements will have a feeding rate between 120 – 200 grams per day.

In addition to supplying your horse with adequate levels of required nutrients, it’s also important to pay attention to the ratios between certain nutrients, such as the calcium to phosphorus ratio and the zinc-copper-iron ratio.

A well-formulated vitamin and mineral supplement should balance your horse’s overall diet. Work with an equine nutritionist to identify imbalances in key nutrient ratios.

Omneity

Mad Barn’s Omneity is a comprehensive vitamin and mineral supplement for horses that provides a full profile of the nutrients required to support optimal health.

Omneity was formulated by analyzing thousands of forage samples and grain-based feeding programs to identify the most commonly lacking nutrients in the equine diet. Omneity is made with 100% organic trace minerals and is designed to balance most equine feeding programs.

Omneity also supplies limiting amino acids, digestive enzymes, active yeast cultures, and complete B-vitamin fortification including 20 mg of biotin to support hoof health.