The most commonly recognized mineral need of animals and man is salt. Yet it is one mineral most often taken for granted
today. The Roman legion air was paid in salt, from which we get our word “salary”. Many an American city owes it's location to
an old, now forgotten, slat lick. It is understood that salt in livestock rations is important even vital, serving not only as an
appetizer but as a source of vital minerals – Sodium and chlorine.
Nevertheless, there is considerable inconsistencies in the use of salt in prepared mineral feed. The amount used ranges from
little or nothing to as high as 70%.
When to small an amount of salt is used, the mineral is not properly balanced and does not do the best possible job for an
animal. On the other hand, when too much salt is used, the purpose is usually to offset unpalatable sources of phosphorus.
The result is a mineral formula unbalanced in the other direction, with salt limiting the amount of needed minerals consumed.
With palatable source of Phosphorus, a salt content of between 10%-20% can permit a satisfactory balance of mineral
elements, and gives optimum palatability to control consumption.
Functions of Salt (Sodium Chloride)
Salt stimulates the secretion of saliva and promotes the action of certain enzymes. It is main appetizer as well and a nutrient.
Sodium and chlorine are important in maintaining the necessary osmotic pressure in the body cells. Sodium is the chief alkaline
element needed to balance the acidity of the body. Sodium helps to control cardiac muscular tension. It also produces liver
bile which aids digestion. Gastric juice, which is mostly hydrochloric acid formed partly from the chlorine of salt, also works to
digest food in the animals stomach.
Salt Deficiency Symptoms
In cattle, symptoms are a lack of appetite, a decrease in feed efficiency, a sharp decline in milk production and a depressed
rate of growth. They may also chew wood, dirt or other debris in there search for salt.