Animal Nutrition

Animal nutrition is a major market for salt, both for commercial livestock, poultry and fish production and to nourish healthy pets, like cats and dogs. Beyond animal feeding, some soils require salt fertilization for maximum crop yield or nutritional quality. On the other hand, saline soils severely challenge agricultural production in many areas.

Salt is unique in that animals have a much greater appetite for the sodium and chloride in salt than for other minerals. Because most plants provide insufficient sodium for animal feeding and may lack adequate chloride content, salt supplementation is a critical part of a nutritionally balanced diet for animals. In addition, because animals have a definite appetite for salt, it can be used as a delivery mechanism to ensure adequate intake of less palatable nutrients and as a feed limiter.

Salt is the only mineral that animals show a particular desire to eat. Therefore it can be very useful as a carrier for other essential nutrients. It can also be used to regulate the intake of minerals and feedstuffs.

Salt as a Carrier of Trace Minerals

Salt is a natural carrier for trace minerals, since all farm animals have a natural appetite for salt. Moreover, when cattle, horses, sheep and other animals are on pasture with little, no or varying amounts of concentrate feeding, producers can supply trace mineralized salt free-choice in the form of a mineral block or as loose trace mineral salt in a box. Then, regardless of the amount of concentrates fed, and especially if none is fed, the animal can still consume salt and the trace minerals it contains. The trace mineral levels in salt or salt-based mineral products are guaranteed on the package. Different levels of various minerals are added to salt for specific and different situations.

Salt with Additives

Salt can be obtained with or without additives. Most producers add six of the trace minerals (iron, copper, zinc, manganese, cobalt and iodine) and some also add selenium to trace mineralized salt. Salt producers formulate products with additives other than trace minerals. These include other nutrients as well as non-nutritive feed additives. Salt is an ideal carrier of many feed additives because salt is needed by all animals on a daily basis.

Forms of Salt to Use

Salt can be provided to animals in many ways. It can be used in the form of loose salt or salt blocks. Loose salt is used in diets mixed for animal feeding. In relatively small pastures, both loose salt and block salt are self-fed to livestock. With very large pastures or extensive range conditions, where mineral boxes are difficult to reach, salt blocks are a good solution. In some cases, they are dropped by airplane onto range areas. Salt blocks can be made for use in specific areas.

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