The role of salt in agriculture and the effect of salt deficiencies

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Salt (or sodium chloride) is used for:

- Animal nutrition

- Preserving silage

- Salting hay

Why give salt to farm animals like cows, calves, sheep and goats ?

Salt plays a key role to keep animals' bodily functions in good order, as well as their general health, production and breeding capabilities. More specifically, salt stimulates and boosts animals' appetites while regulating the amount of water they drink and the dry matter they consume. Salt supplements are critical as fodder is naturally low in sodium!

 

How much salt should I give my livestock?

Salt is the only element (together with water) that animals have a specific appetite for, i.e. they can tailor their consumption to match their needs and therefore waste nothing (no under or over-eating).

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What are the symptoms of salt deficiency?

There are a range of salt deficiency symptoms that are visible to varying degrees:

• loss of appetite and reduced ingestion (up to 25% less)

• pica (taste cravings: animals lick anything they find)

• slower growth

• drop in milk production

• tired animals prone to disease

• infertility problems (placenta retention, premature calving, sterility)