Salt is an essential part of an animal’s diet. Due to chemical fertiliser use there is an imbalance of sodium and pottasium in the soil.
Severe restriction of salt over a long period of time could result in permanent central nervous system damage, lower weight gain, poor feed conversion and lower quality grade.
Animals have a more well-deﬁned appetite for salt than any other compound in nature, except water. “They eat wood or plants they might otherwise avoid. They lick dirt and may lick each other.”
Sodium is critical to maintain impulses and deficiency affects every aspect of performance. Growth, fertility and reproduction, and milk production decline. Cattle simply don’t perform to their genetic potential.
Cattle consuming high-forage, high-potassium diets generally need and consume more salt.
Animals grazing intensively managed pastures that are heavily fertilized with nitrogen (N) and potassium may also have an increased salt requirement
The sodium-potassium balance is also related to an animal’s ability to absorb magnesium (Mg). High Potassium may inhibit magnesium absorption. Increasing sodium-potassium ratio may be needed in osmotic balance and pH in every living cell. It is required in relatively large amounts, compared to other minerals.
Sodium is a major component of saliva, too, and helps buffer acid during ruminal fermentation.