Salt blocks and your horse

For years, popular wisdom has said to provide salt blocks to horses. However, many horse owners unwittingly sabotage their mineral supplement programs by providing plain white or yellow salt blocks in place of — or in addition to — loose mineral supplements or mineral blocks. Now, complete mineral and vitamin supplement products that contain salt and are specifically designed for horses are available.


The consumption of mineral supplements is regulated by several different factors, including salt content, hardness, molasses content and more. Salt is added to the mineral mix not only to meet the needs of the horse but, also, to mask the taste of less palatable ingredients, such as phosphorus.

Salt may also be added to help limit consumption. Think of this like we humans would think, for example, about French fries. Wouldn’t topping them off with a dash of salt make them even tastier, compelling you to eat more? What would happen, though, if you accidentally spilled the entire salt shaker on those fries? Odds are, you would be less likely to eat as many of them — or you might decide to forgo them entirely. These same principles apply to mineral supplementation for horses.

What does this have to do with salt blocks?

When white, blue or yellow salt blocks or red trace mineral salt blocks are provided alongside a complete mineral supplement, your horse may end up consuming all of its salt from the blocks — but none of the complete mineral supplement. Or, in the instance that your horse consumes some of both, it still may not be consuming as much of the mineral supplement as it really needs.

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When you buy a mineral supplement, you will see feeding instructions on the label. The consumption rate listed there is the rate that must be fed to deliver the full complement of minerals and vitamins. However, if the desired consumption rate of a mineral is, for instance, six ounces per head per day, the presence of salt blocks may decrease the actual consumption of this mineral to two or three ounces per head per day. This means that, if this supplement is designed to deliver 100 percent of the daily recommended allowances for trace minerals, in this case, your horse is only receiving half of its trace mineral needs. Over time, this could lead to the development of mineral deficiencies.

No matter what the case may be, reading and following the label directions for any equine supplement is crucial. Never provide additional sources of salt to horses receiving free-choice complete mineral supplements unless the product label specifically instructs you to do so. (It is rare, but some supplements do recommend that you provide additional salt.)

The cost of a good-quality, complete mineral supplement can be significant — but this investment is worth the price if it leads to the improved health and performance of your horse. On the other hand, salt blocks that decrease the effectiveness of your complete mineral supplement will also significantly decrease the value of your investment.

The SWEETLIX line of equine supplements helps horses attain maximum health and performance by providing a complete vitamin and trace mineral package designed especially for their unique nutritional requirements. When fed according to label instructions, these products deliver 100 percent of a horse’s daily trace mineral needs. 

No matter what mineral supplement you choose, protect your investment dollars by reading and following the feeding directions on the product’s label. Avoid giving your horse access to white or yellow salt blocks unless the mineral supplement specifically encourages doing so.

For more information, ask for SWEETLIX by name at your local dealer or call 1-87-SWEETLIX to speak with a SWEETLIX nutritionist.