Today, I installed a free choice mineral feeder for the horses. I got a sampler kit that includes 16 different mineral mixes. Some of the mixes have varying ratios of common minerals, while others are single minerals. Most minerals are mixed with salt, but some of them have wheat middlings as a filler.
After I put it in, I brought the horses in to show it to them. They blew into each cup, skipped over many, but did taste some.
Some illicited funny faces. Here, Catlow had just tasted the potassium mix and I don't think she appreciated it. She did try it again though, so maybe she needed it...
They all really liked the calcium mix and the vitamin A mix, although these 2 mixes had wheat middling filler instead of salt, so maybe that's why they liked it so much. I refilled it several times while they took turns licking it down. Todd said it makes sense that they like those 2 though because in ID, the forage is low in Ca, and hay is low in VitA. VitA is high in fresh foliage. They also tasted the sulfur/salt mix and the Selenium/salt mix, although they didn't eat a lot of it. This makes sense too, since they do have access to mineral salt, but it doesn't have selenium in it and this region is low in selenium. I'm not sure their mineral salt has sulfur in it either.
After a while, the wind blew stuff against the tin barn, so they all ran outside. Catlow continued to make her funny faces.
They soon returned to lick minerals. Chico also displayed the Flehmen response after tasting the calcium mix.
Goofy horse, then he went back to eating.
They soon grew bored and went back out to eat hay.
Catlow comes over to check me out, hoping for treats.
Later I caught Chico coming out of the barn with a smudge of white on his nose...he must have been tasting a different mineral than they'd tried before. I wonder which one it was. It will be interesting to leave them access to the minerals for a week and then go back and figure out which ones they've been after.
A return to the back 40, the 2017 edition
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