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Minerals: Are Organic or Inorganic Ones Best?

Take a look at your horse’s feed, and the odds are good that it contains ingredients such as zinc oxide and copper sulfate. Both of these minerals fall under the category of inorganic. For years horses have thrived on this kind of feed with little or no problems.

Yet it has been found out that minerals stemming from organic sources tend to provide more help for the horse’s performance and health when the animal is stressed or participates in strenuous exercise. Should you switch your horse’s feed?

To properly answer this question, it is important to understand the difference between the compounds. Organic minerals are simply substances that are – via chemical reactions – bonded to an organic material. In the old days, these types of minerals were referred to as

chelates, but you may now also see names such as proteinate, or simply a description of the organic mineral such as polysaccharide mineral complex. Inorganic versions of these compounds are usually referred to sulfates or oxides.

Minerals play a vital role in the horse’s health. Organic minerals properly supplied with a balanced diet prevent muscle abnormalities, developmental orthopedic disease, and other health issues. Problems may arise when the minerals are not adequately metabolized by the animal. This is rarely the case with the organic minerals. Interestingly, it is the young horses that convalesce, perform or are exercised regularly, or may be bred that are most affected by the benefits of the organics minerals while the mature animal with a low level of any kind of activity does not show any difference in health.

Consider the fact that the goal of horse training is the development of a healthy muscle and skeletal system. While you may be working on providing your horse this training, failure to supply it with dietary minerals on a daily basis counteracts the benefits the horse has already experienced. Additionally, keep in mind that calcium, zinc, copper and phosphorus have been proven to not only benefit your animal’s overall health but to also reduce cases of muscular problems. DOD is one such condition that may be improved with the administration of copper proteinates; the inorganic compounds, copper sulfate, has little impact on the condition.

Research has shown that organic copper aides in the development of cartilage in young horses, while organic zinc in addition to organic copper – oftentimes in conjunction with biotin and methionine - keep the hooves healthy. Once again inorganic compounds do not show the same effect. Offer the animal zinc, copper, selenium and also manganese when stressed and you will find an increase in health, and overall stamina. Similarly, organic minerals have been shown to have a positive effect on the immune system of the animal. Proteinates help the animals to reproduce and give birth to healthy foals while decreasing the numbers of pregnancy losses. As a matter of fact, foaling rates on farms where proteinate has been consistently added to the broodmares’ feed are up by as much as 20 percent.

Read the next horse nutrition article on Probiotics.
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