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Can you feed table salt to horses

Ok, not sure if it is processed different then salt blocks or not so I decided to ask.

Can I mix like a teaspoon of table salt in my horses feed to help them drink during the winter?  

I have no idea if you can feed it or not?    

I guess no question is a stupid question ... so I've been told.    

Sodium chloride is sodium chloride, regardless, it is metabolized the same way.  Table salt is a much more pure form.  Livestock salt has a lot more impurities in it.   You don't want to FEED the salt though, as forced feeding too much can give the horse too much and upset their metabolism.  Best to give it free choice.  If you do add it to feed, don't add much.

If your horse isn't drinking enough water, you are better off warming the water.   Studies have shown horses don't drink enough water if it is cold.  Most tank heaters heat the water to 40 degrees.  

And you can get mineralized salt that has other minerals also.

Check your horse's poop.  If the poop balls are moist, they are getting enough water.   If they're dry, I'd heat the water and give electrolytes instead.  You might also wet the feed to get more water in them.

You have to watch adding don't want them over salted either.

I'm with Carol here.  It's a lot safer to just heat the water; mine drink as much in the winter as in the summer

Thank you Carol!  I am glad I asked here.  I will get a water tank heater and move it in the corner by the barn so it isnt out in the open.  

I just worry that they wont drink enough.  I think that is why I lost Semi (my black and white paint gelding) last December.  

PasoBaby_CarolU wrote:
You don't want to FEED the salt though, as forced feeding too much can give the horse too much and upset their metabolism.  Best to give it free choice.  If you do add it to feed, don't add much.

Most horses won't eat enough salt free choice especially if they are only given a salt block. Daily requirements for an 1100lb horse is 10 grams Sodium and 40 grams Chloride (according to NRC guidelines at maintenance or light work).  Most Chloride requirements are met by hay.  Our horses are given some salt in their feed and access to free choice white salt blocks.  Sometimes they leave the salt in the bottom of their feed tubs but not very often.


karmikacres wrote:
Our horses are given some salt in their feed and access to free choice white salt blocks.  Sometimes they leave the salt in the bottom of their feed tubs but not very often.Karen

Do you give them table salt?  Or can you get ground up salt from the feed store?   Also how much?

I have a mineral block in the pastures and my mare eats it like crazy but the boys dont eat it much (the boys are in one pasture and my mare in another).

We get 50 pond bags of non iodized salt from the feed store,  if you have no other source of iodine, you will need to find iodized salt (table salt).

We feed 2 tablespoons per day to our horses, and they have access to a white salt block in their paddocks.  Do not use the mineral salt blocks, they are very high in iron, and tend to not be balanced well for horses.


I pour a large Gatorade in their water tank if I feel they are not drinking enough.

Gatoraid, I get the powdered G~aid from WalMart , cheaper and you can add as much or as little as the horses prefer. It has all the stuff in it they need.
Get some small jugs to test for which flavor they will all drink.

Red likes the beer flavor of Miller Lite........ just a thought on the side.


I agree that horses can't lick enough salt, but I don't feed salt, although I know many people who do.  One to two tablespoons a day, depending on size of horse.  I just have free access to livestock grade coarse salt and heated water.  Zar will colic in the winter if she doesn't have warm enough water.  I used to chop ice before I got her.  Now I heat water.  

Sorry you lost your horse.  

BTW I need to relay that a friend saw a woman kill her horse by feeding too much salt.  She fed like a cup every day.  His electrolytes were way off and he died of a heart attack.  He was three years old.  

Salt is one of those things, a little is necessary.  Too much is deadly.
becky b

When Budman had a severe secum impaction colic and spent 8 days in the hospital the vet sent me home with advice on how to prevent it in the future.  Some of his tips were:

Heat their water in the winter

Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt to their food.  Another option is to spray their hay (if you feed flakes from square bales) with water to get it good and damp and sprinkle the salt on the hay.  He did warn not to feed too much salt.  Oh and yes it was regular table salt, you can find 10 pound bags of it in Walmart/Sam's Club, etc.  I keep it in a rubbermaid container to keep it dry.

Use white salt blocks instead of the brown mineral ones.

Soak their food with warm water and feed it to them good and wet (don't drain the water off of it).

Keep their water clean and fresh.  He said people wash their water tubs out often in hot weather but not as often in colder weather.  Horses will drink more if the water is fresh.

Add electrolyte supplements to water (I can't think of the brand name he mentioned now, I never bought it, I knew my horse would not drink it because they tried it at the hospital and he would not drink it there)

If your schedule allows feed them 3 to 4 times a day instead of 1 or 2  they tend to drink water soon after eating.  

I also observed with my horses, when I had round bales out where they could eat hay constantly they drank so much more water that I had to add extra water tubs.  (I wish I could find affordable good quality round bales, my hay dealer died and now I feed square bales)

I also had a PP recommend the molasses water thing in the winter too, but my horse is too fat for that.

Ok, I am going to tractor supply today to get a water tank heater.  Should I get a floating or sinking one?  The 2 that tsc carry are 1500 watts.  Is that good?

That's a good question Jodi! Also, I have a device that prevents freezing (which I thought was a heater)but what's the difference between that and an actual heater ? What are they called ?  

Sherry, I'm not sure what you are talking about, so can't answer your question.

Jody, it's really up to you.  I have three kinds, the kind at the bottom, the kind that floats, and the kind you have to install through the drain plug.   The third one we bought because Bruiser thought the other two were to PLAY with.  It's the hardest to deal with since it's very hard to tip and clean the trough out.   I prefer the other two as you can take them out and clean your tank.  

Whichever kind you use, make SURE you have it plugged into a grounded GFI circuit plug.  If you have to use extension cords, make sure they are 3-prong ground plug heavy duty outdoor cords.   If you can, run the wire through PVC pipe and secure it where your horses can't mess with it, that is best.   I tie mine close to the top of the tank where any geldings are (they're the worst).  The mares pretty much leave it alone.  

Then WATCH your horses.  If they avoid the trough you could have an electrical short.   Horses are very sensitive to electricity.

Looked on Tractor Supply, I have a de-icer .........

Which will work better carol, the floatin or sinking? I ran to tsc on my lunch and all they had was the floating one.  Seems the sinking is more popular.  Sherry, which do you have?

BTW - you can also offer free choice rock salt.  Get the kind in the cooking section NOT the kind for water softeners.

I have the one that sits on the bottom with a cage for about $28. This is the 4th winter and it's still working  
It prevents it from icing but it does not heat the water

My water trough is half in and half out of the fence and the de-icer is in the half out part.

You can clean the hard water deposits on the heating element part each year and extend the life of the heater.   Anything abrasive will work, my husband like the teeth of a pair of pliers.

Ok, I bought the sinking one that sits on the bottom.  Probably the same one you have Sherry.  Mine was $28.  

I also bought some stock salt.  It has a pic of a horse, sheep and a cow on the bag.  It says to free choice feed it but I am just going to mix 2 tbsp a day.  

I cant free feed it because the boys dont have a decent shelter that they get in to put it in right now.  I am going to build my leantoo after Christmas when I get back from Michigan.

I feed a tiny bit of table salt everyday but it is mostly in order to get some iodine into them.  It has made a huge difference.  They also have a salt block, but rarely use it.  It is hard for horses to lick the block - their tongues are not like cattle tongues.

Sooooo, does anyone have an actual heater and where did you buy it ?? Thanks
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