Limestone flour (calcium for horses)
Calcium for horses, also known as limestone flour for horses is an important mineral for whole-body health. As an important structural mineral most calcium in the body can be found in the teeth and bones. It is a natural source of calcium that supports healthy growth and the general maintenance of bones and teeth.
Through analysis of forage, we can confidently advise our clients on how much calcium they might need to feed. Usually, horses in light to moderate work will be adequately supplied by calcium in the grass, hay or haylage they eat. Horses eating alfalfa and beet pulp, which are both high in calcium, are also exposed to high levels of naturally chelated calcium.
Benefits of calcium for horses
Calcium is also the activator for the release of chemicals from nerve endings, for constriction of arteries in the regulation of blood pressure and calcium release from storage structures inside muscle cells causes muscular contraction. The swimming of sperm requires calcium. Calcium is also needed for the release of insulin from storage areas in the pancreatic cells.
Other minerals work with calcium or are needed to balance out its effects. These include phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. All must be present in correct concentrations so it is wise to carry out an analysis of the grass, hay or haylage your horse eats in order to determine the correct amounts of calcium or ratio of calcium and all minerals in the diet.
The average size adult at maintenance requires around 20 grams/day of calcium. Growing, pregnant and lactating horses however have much higher requirements, often not covered by the grass, hay or haylage eaten. A horse in moderate to heavy work will also have a higher requirement.
Feeds high in naturally occurring calcium such as alfalfa and beet pulp can often be used to supplement higher levels of calcium in addition to calcium carbonate.
Forageplus does not advise the feeding of separate minerals unless levels have been checked through carrying out a forage analysis. The ratio of calcium and the ratio of minerals are important and feeding one mineral without supplementing correct levels of another can be detrimental to horse health. If you are uncertain of mineral levels then feeding either a Forageplus Equine Balancer or carrying out analysis of forage is wise.
Find out how the ratios of minerals fed can support healthy growth and the maintenance of bones by visiting the Forageplus Talk site here.