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Organic or inorganic minerals

When it comes to mineral supplements, there are often misconceptions and misunderstandings. It is essential to distinguish a few things:

Inorganic minerals are minerals bound to inorganic ions (oxides, sulfates).

Organic minerals are those bound to organic molecules (usually amino acids, known as chelates).

Both inorganic and organic minerals used as feed additives are all synthetically produced. “Organic” does not necessarily mean it comes from a natural source, and “inorganic” doesn’t imply it is synthetic.

Both inorganic and organic compounds occur naturally in nature. Even in plants, you can find both forms. However, the mineral content in plants is too low to provide horses with all the minerals they need solely through plant-based sources.

Wild horses also obtain minerals in non-plant form. They seek out and consume soil at specific spots. Research has shown that these spots are highly enriched with minerals and trace elements.

In our way of horse feeding, the mineral supply from the basic feed (hay, pasture grass) is generally insufficient. Minerals must therefore be added.

Both the organic and inorganic minerals added to the feed are synthetically produced. Different chemical forms can be metabolised differently.


Let’s take zinc as an example: zinc oxide (inorganic) is approximately 10-20% bioavailable zinc sulfate (inorganic) is around 50-65% bioavailable, and zinc chelate (organic) is about 80-95% bioavailable. However, these values apply only when these minerals are fed individually. If a mixture containing, for example, zinc and copper is fed, the zinc availability decreases by about 50% due to competition with copper for the same entry points in the intestine.

For this reason, feed is usually supplemented with quantities far exceeding the daily requirements, so that the appropriate amount ends up in the horse’s system, with the rest remaining in the intestines.

If you feed a diet exclusively containing organically bound minerals, it is crucial to note that these minerals are also synthetically produced! Moreover, they may not be as bioavailable as one might think.

This is due to the competition among various minerals and trace elements. Additionally, organic minerals are expensive, leading manufacturers to reduce the dosage to remain cost-effective. Consequently, even less of the mineral ends up being absorbed by the horse’s metabolism.

Chelates taste horrible

To make “organic mineral feed” more palatable, various flavoring agents such as apple pulp, syrup, sugar, green meal, and the like are added.

Horses generally find inorganic minerals more palatable and can metabolise them sufficiently to prevent deficiencies.

Some chelates do more harm than good

On the contrary, for some organic minerals (e.g., selenium), it has been observed that the high bioavailability of chelates can do more harm than good in practice, as the body may not be able to adequately eliminate excess minerals.

Therefore, it is now believed that feeding organic selenium can lead to a significant accumulation of selenium in tissues, potentially resulting in chronic, subclinical poisoning.

We recommend inorganic minerals

Due to the use of inorganic minerals and the absence of various (partly tasty) carrier substances, we recommend OKAPI minerals.

Natural mineral supplements for horses
Due to the use of inorganic minerals, we recommend OKAPI minerals. © OKAPI GmbH

These supplements do not contain any “flavouring agents,” and horses consume them only as needed, imitating the mineral lick spots of wild horses.

Hence, our recommendation is to offer the feed “as needed.” Initially, follow the suggested dosage until the horses start to refuse the mineral supplement.

Afterward, the minerals can generally be provided ad libitum, as the mineral reserves will be full, and any further mineral intake will occur as needed.

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