How environmentally friendly are the mineral supplements I’m feeding my horse and why should I care?

Chelate Minerals 1
Because inorganic trace minerals are poorly absorbed by the horse, the traditional practice has involved over-supplementing these in feed formulations. Horses can only absorb a certain level of specific minerals and when over-supplemented, these are just passed through the system and excreted, literally ‘throwing money away’.

High levels of minerals excreted in faeces and urine find their way into soil and waterways, contaminating both surface and ground water and this can also have a detrimental effect on soil microorganisms, which are essential to maintaining soil structure and quality.

Research shows that organic minerals demonstrate improved absorption, and don’t need to be supplemented in excess of recommended daily allowances, so feeding them to your horse will alleviate much of the negative environmental impacts from horse excretions.

What about just adding a larger proportion of a less effective but cheaper mineral?

Chelate Minerals 2
In some cases, a large intake of one mineral can block digestibility of another mineral.

Most minerals occur in several forms that can be mixed into feed. For example, feed manufacturers can choose from at least six forms of manganese. What makes one more desirable than another?

Two factors – digestibility and cost, are generally taken into consideration. As might be expected, the most easily digestible mineral forms are also those with the highest cost.


Is the form of the organic mineral that I am using readily absorbed by my horse?

Depends – the extent of the uptake of trace minerals from the digestive tract is reliant on their ability to maintain their solubility until they reach their site of absorption, and then on the efficiency of uptake into the blood.

So, as organic mineral forms have become more commonplace in the market, it’s important to understand why some chelated minerals have advantages over other chelated and organic mineral forms.

What are the benefits of Organic Chelate Minerals ….?

Let’s first look at what a chelate mineral is – and here’s the science bit, SO PAY ATTENTION!

A chelate is a chemical compound in which a metal molecule (the mineral) and an organic molecule (the ligand) are combined.

The ligand is the critical component of a chelate, because it transforms the previously inorganic molecule (the mineral) into an organic mineral form.  This makes the mineral more biologically effective than its inorganic form, and that in turn makes it more bioavailable to the body. Got that?

Chelate Minerals 3
Here’s a photo to make things clearer…

Chelates also prevent trace minerals from interacting with certain feed components and other minerals in the horse’s body, and because of their enhanced  bioavailability, using them  allows a reduction of at least 33% in supplement rates in comparison with inorganic minerals, without compromising performance.  

However, here’s the crunch – not all chelates are created equal. Some chelated minerals are more bioavailable than others. Yikes!

So what makes one form of chelate better than another?


To explain this let’s take a look at some examples of commonly used chelate types in feeds/supplements and their efficacy.


Many companies promote the use of hydrolysed proteins, (proteinates) as their form of mineral chelates. These are minerals that are chelated with short-chained peptides and amino acids derived from hydrolysed soy proteins, which makes them more stable and less reactive in the digestive tract. The downside is that the molecular size of metal proteinates is sometimes is higher than the desired size which decreases bioavailability.  They are less expensive, but not much beneficial when compared with single amino acid chelates.

Polysaccharide complexes

These are generally prepared by coating the mineral with polysaccharide molecules. These are larger molecules based on chains of simple sugars that are known to be highly soluble in the digestive tract. However, many studies have reported no beneficial effect on animal performance.

Amino-acid chelates,

These are particular types of chelate, in which the mineral is chelated with a single amino acid. Amino acid chelates are therefore a better chelate as compared to polysaccharide and proteinates due to higher bioavailability.

The best example of these is the most expensive form – glycinates. Why?

  • Glycinates from glycine are readily absorbed in the gut and get transported right into the cells in the intestine compared to Methionine, Cysteine etc.
  • The low pH of Glycine chelates reduces the sensitivity to the acidic conditions of the digestive tract and the absorption of the mineral is improved.
  • Glycine chelates remain as a chelate until absorbed and don’t interact with other gut constituents.
  • Glycine chelates are non-hazardous AND are environmentally safe

Unsurprisingly, you’ll find glycinate mineral chelates are included in the entire range of Fibregenix balancers because we’re committed to your horse’s health and we want the very best for him.  That’s why we’ve raised the bar of expectation and ensured that everything we include in our formulations is going to pass the test of absorption for your horse – with bells on!!

Now that level of detail is something you don’t find in your average feed balancer….

© Fibregenix, June 2019