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Why Manganese is So Essential in a Horse's Diet
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Why Manganese is So Essential in a Horse's Diet

As a nutrient, manganese is one of the most essential minerals for horses. Not only does it assist in the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates, but also helps in the making of chondroitin sulfate which is a key component in the formation of cartilage. In addition, it is also part of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase which helps reduce the damage caused by free radicals.

Feeding Requirements and Sources

For a mature, 1100-pound horse, a minimum of 400-500 milligrams of manganese daily is sufficient. Two excellent and relatively cheap sources of this include forage and unrefined grains. In fact, they remain the main sources of the crucial mineral for both horses and other livestock. Typically, there are between 40-140 mg of manganese per kg of forage. Even at its lowest mineral content, most dry matter would contain manganese for a mature horse. Barley, oats and other grains normally contain a lower content of the metal when compared to forage.

In some places, the local water might have a lot of minerals, including substantial manganese amounts. The only way to know the actual minerals and their quantities your horse is consuming with the water is to have some samples analyzed.

Deficiency vs Excess

Incidences of manganese deficiency are rare and little known amongst horses. The deficiency can have serious effects on other livestock including swine, poultry, and ruminants. Effects of manganese deficiency among these animals may cause enlarged joints, reproductive problems, abnormal development of cartilage and crooked limbs. These abnormalities can only be assumed to affect horses as well. However, they are yet to be proven.

Furthermore, there is no known case of excessive manganese consumption (manganese toxicity) amongst horses. In other livestock though, such toxicity has been observed to interfere with proper phosphorous absorption. Phosphorous is an essential macro-mineral, crucial for proper bone health and growth.

All in all, as with every other mineral, manganese needs to be consumed in balance with other nutrients. As it is readily available in good quality dry fodder and grain, an equine nutritionist can assist you in planning out your horse’s diet to give a good balance of manganese and other minerals. This is absolutely essential as an excess of the mineral may cause interference with the absorption of other key minerals and other dietary problems too.

Image source: flickr.com

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