Potassium - how much does your horse need?

Potassium is the most important ion in controlling osmotic pressure within cells, and most body potassium is stored within the muscles, playing a major role in the nerve signals that control muscle contractions. The total amount of body potassium in a 500kg horse is estimated to be 28,000mEq, or 1,092g, all of which can be derived from forage when fed a low concentrate, high forage diet. Diets proportionally high in cereals provide lower levels of potassium, and during exercise, redistribution of electrolytes is needed, with the gastro-intestinal tract acting as a useful store.

The daily requirement of potassium for 500kg horse is estimated to be 25g/day, with horses in high levels of activity requiring more due to losses in sweat. Excretion of potassium increases in reaction to exercise, and combined with heavy sweating losses, leading to a requirement of up to 53g per day for horses in heavy work.

A daily dose of Equinectar provides 487.5mg of potassium, or 0.9-1.95% of their daily requirements, and 0.045% of their total body composition of potassium. While providing a useful source of this essential mineral, the level is a small contributor to overall potassium intake in equine diets.

by Victoria Philips, Animal Nutritionist, BSc MSc


About the author:

Victoria has worked in the animal feed industry for over 20 years. Her qualifications and experience in all aspects of feed production make her a leading advisor in nutrition, feed safety and mill production to feed businesses and farmers.

QUALIFICATIONS

  • BSc (Hons) Agricultural Biochemistry & Nutrition University of Newcastle Upon Tyne (1994)
  • MSc Animal Production University of Aberdeen (1995)
  • Advanced Certificate in Food Safety
  • Advanced Certificate in Applied HACCP Principles
  • Lead Auditor for ISO 9000:2000 (2003) and ISO 22000:2005 (2007)
  • Report Writing (Intermediate) - The Expert Witness Institute

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