Iron Excess?Echo

If you are concerned about iron overload, the most effective thing you can do is manage your horse’s pasture in such a way they are not living 24/7 on short grass.

It is also essential to ensure optimal copper levels because copper is required for iron to perform its functions. And you need 3 x as much zinc as copper….(Premium/Supreme/MVA are ideal and take care of these for your horse)

So you can relax, even though the body has no way to excrete excess, iron overload in horses is actually very uncommon and when there are issues they are almost always the result of the injection of inorganic forms of iron to high performance or race-horses...
Pic: Calmhealthyhorse: Echo

 

Iron for thought!


CalmHealthyHorse: Posh

Because excess iron cannot be excreted, there is concern that many horses suffer from iron over-load.
When you have pasture analysed, iron readings tend to be high, usually made even higher by soil contamination on the sample.

This is virtually impossible to avoid as is the ingestion of excess iron by the horse whilst he is grazing short grass.

Dirt is inherently high in iron** and is in very close proximity to the mouth especially when the horse is grazing close to the ground. The shorter the grass, the higher the iron intake.


Compare the figures opposite and you can see that short grass contains the highest iron levels by far. Long grass however, has lower iron levels and hay even lower.


Opposite is a comparison of the iron content of common forages & feedstuffs, bearing in mind that the Daily Requirement for a 500kg horse is around 400mgs/day (500 for horses in intense work, 625 for lactating mares from NRC Nutrient Requirements of Horses, 6th Revised Edition)
Multiply these figures by 10 to see how much iron your horse is actually ingesting when consuming 10 kgs of such forage per day (These figures are from various forage analyses conducted by Hill Laboratory for Calm Healthy Horses)


 

Iron content mgs/kg

Cocksfoot/Sweet Vernal Hay..............69
Brown-top/cocksfoot Hay..….............114
Browntop Hay…………........................ 43
Rye-grass Hay………...........................118
Mixed grasses Hay…..…......................455
Mixed grass Hay ..…….........................90
Long green grass (rye/cocksfoot)….....161
Short, green grass................................1,774
Short grass........ ………........................1,456
Short grass …….....…...........................665
Autumn Grass Shoots…....................…1,099

Then add what the horse would also be getting from the following feeds (from NRC Nutrient requirements of Horses)
Mgs/kg

Soybean hulls … 604
Beet…………....... 642
Linseed…………...369
Rice Bran …………239
Oats ……..............94
Barley……………...70


Most people will see that their horses iron intake is far higher than the Daily Requirement. 
The GOOD NEWS is that, because this iron isn’t in a bio-available form, most of it does not get absorbed anyway.

Around 80% goes through the digestive system and out with the manure. 

The iron that is absorbed is particularly important for the transport of oxygen in the blood plus other roles such as assisting enzymes to perform the trillions of chemical reactions needed for life to go on.

** Iron, chemical symbol Fe, is the fourth most abundant element available on Earth, according to the University of Wisconsin

***The iron content of soil typically depends on its pH level and aeration, acidic soils with poor aeration generally contain more iron.

 

Organic and Inorganic Minerals

When we refer to minerals as ‘organic’ we don’t mean ‘spray-free’ as in when we talk about fruit and vegetables. ‘Organic’ minerals are attached to a molecule, nearly always one of the amino acids, that enables it to be readily absorbed and utilised by the body. Organic minerals are otherwise known as chelated minerals.

Once ingested, the body ‘knows’ which minerals are available and exactly what to do with them regardless of their source. Ultimately it does not matter if you consume organic or inorganic minerals. What does matter is how much time it takes the body to break down the minerals into their atomic (ionic) state in order to be effectively utilized at the cellular level. Organic minerals, being already attached, are ‘good to go’ and tend to get to work more quickly.

Inorganic minerals are attached to other inorganic compounds (usually derived from rock). For example magnesium oxide or calcium carbonate. In order to be utilised they need to dissociate from the other compound and come together with an amino acid in order to be absorbed and go to work.

Some inorganic minerals, in their dissociated state are prone to latch onto other compounds rendering them unavailable. Examples of ‘other compounds’ are oxalates from warm season grasses like kikuyu, setaria or buffel or phytates from grains.

Steer clear of the idea that ‘organic’ is ‘good’ and inorganic is ‘bad’. Inorganic minerals can be just as vital – look at salt which is ‘Sodium attached to Chloride’. The chloride molecule plays many roles in keeping your horse (and you) alive! Having a negative charge it helps neutralise the excess of positive charges coming from the horse’s diet thereby keeping pH neutral. It is also necessary for the production of stomach acid (hydrochloric acid).