Feeding Method

Horse diet and feeding method is paramount to the health and wellbeing of your horse. In Australia, to achieve nutritional electrolyte balance for horses, extra supplementation of magnesium chloride salt is recommended. Horse therapists and nutritionists can also help you to examine other parts of the diet which may need adjustments.  For example, there may be too much calcium or grain in the diet, or not enough fats.  If a horse has acidosis they may need treatment with a toxin-binder and sodium bicarbonate in order to assist pH and gut healing.

Horse health practitioners, podiotherapists and hoof trimmers recommend Elektra Magnesium Chloride Flakes supplement in horse feeds to balance diet and address magnesium deficiency symptoms. Extra magnesium supports all of the body’s systems because of its role in energy metabolism and enzyme activity. It’s a great co-factor for a host of other nutrients including iron, zinc and vitamin B, and it controls the way calcium is used.  Magnesium helps everything come together with better balance.

Impressive results have been achieved using this magnesium chloride feeding method, including a calmer and easier-to-manage horse.

If you have had issues with a grumpy cantankerous horse and are not sure why, then it could very well be due to a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is an anti-inflammatory mineral and also helps to dissipate pain, swelling, muscle twitches, stiffness, staggering gait and hypercalcemia.

Magnesium helps horses with:

  • muscle relaxation;
  • recovery from over-work;
  • focus and performance;
  • calmness and confidence;
  • better digestion;
  • metabolism and energy;
  • immune system;
  • healthy shiny coat;
  • building healthier and better-formed hoofs and bones;
  • improved posture and structural balance;
  • coordination and nerve function.
  • Recovery from laminitis symptoms.
  • Inflammation recovery.

How much does my horse need?

The minimum recommended needs for horses were published in 1972 in the Journal of Animal Science :  Magnesium Metabolism in the Horse by H. F. Hintz, H. F. Schryver. They recommended a minimum of about 13mg of magnesium per kilo of body weight per day for normal maintenance.  If your horse is, say, 600kg in weight, then the calculation would be 600 x 13mg = 7,800mg.   To estimate the weight of your horse, see NSW DPI.

In Elektra Magnesium Flakes there is about 160mg of elemental magnesium per gram.  Therefore, 7,800 / 160mg = 48.75 grams of flakes would provide the minimum 7,800mg elemental magnesium for a horse weighing 600kg.  However, a draught horse may weigh 800kg.  In this case, minimum maintenance amount would be 65 grams flakes, and more when there are stressful conditions.

How much your horse needs depends on the individual horse; their weight, environment, diet, stress levels, exposure to toxins and heavy metals, and genes. Stress can cause an excessive loss of magnesium .  Phyto-chemicals such as oxalic acid are known to block the uptake of calcium and magnesium.  Heavy metals can also block magnesium.  Exposure to pesticides in the environment can block magnesium as well as harm beneficial gut bacteria.  For many reasons horses may require supplementation two or three times more than the minimum amount of magnesium for maintenance in order to compensate for losses.

How to work out how much magnesium

Rule of thumb and guideline for how much magnesium is required, are the magnesium deficiency symptoms themselves.

On average, horse owners Australia wide have found that half a cup of flakes (approx 110grams) satisfies the average horse’s needs and keeps magnesium deficiency symptoms at bay.  This amount provides 17,600mg elemental magnesium for optimal health and well-being in our more challenging Australian climatic conditions.  If horses are recovering from a major trauma or malnutrition they may even need up to one cup per day temporarily until the body recovers its stores.

If the horse is getting too much magnesium you will notice the stool starting to scour.  In this case, simply reduce the amount.  In the first month of use of magnesium chloride, a horse may need to start with smaller amounts till they get accustomed to it, with incremental increases per week to reach half a cup by end of the first month.

One 9kg bucket of magnesium flakes usually lasts one horse about 5 months at half a cup per day. See articles and videos below for instructions and recommendations.  If you need a consultation with professional horse therapists who have worked with this feeding method since 2009, and who also may be able to help with other aspects of diet such as acidosis and toxic exposures, click here.


ARTICLES – click to download pdf files and print out:

Magnesium for Horses UPDATE by Pauline Moore Nov 2014 (www.gravelproofhoof.org)

Magnesium Chloride Feeding Method – Notes by Deborah Benstead (podiotherapist)

The Importance of Food Grade Magnesium Chloride Hexahydrate

Trace Mineral Analysis – Elektra Magnesium Chloride Flakes (food grade)

Trial of Transdermal Application of MgCl with Horses

Stress and Horse Health

Feeding Method
Jeane Dekter – ‘Barefoot Forward’ Facebook page


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