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Can I feed CRYSTALYX cattle supplements to horses?

Many cattle producers also own horses and these horses are often in the same pastures as the cattle. In a perfect world, we’d offer equine supplements to the horses and bovine supplements to the cattle. However, in a co-pasture situation there is no practical way to keep these separate. As such, some choose a cattle supplement that all will eat.*  In some cases this is harmless. In others it could be deadly.

What Do I Need To Watch Out For?

When it comes to feed supplements, horses and cattle have similar requirements. As a result, the cattle and horse products look and smell about the same and the labels are almost identical. With this in mind, many choose one product to offer to both species for convenience sake. However, there are some CRYSTALYX® cattle supplements that you should steer clear of if you have horses.


Ionophores are specific types of antibiotics fed to cattle to promote growth and prevent coccidial infections. Horses are very sensitive to ionophore toxicity (~ 20 times more sensitive than cattle). Ionophores damage heart and skeletal muscle in horses. The extent of damage is dependent on amount ingested and over how long a time period. With this in mind, one should NEVER allow horses access to a CRYSTALYX® Iono-Lyx® Supplement (blue barrel). While accidental, one-time exposure will likely not result in adverse effects, it isn’t worth the risk to knowingly allow horses access to this product.


Urea is a natural by-product from the metabolism of protein for both horses and cattle. Urea is excreted by the kidneys, intestines, and found in saliva and sweat. Ruminants naturally recycle urea from the saliva in the rumen where it is utilized by rumen microbes and becomes another protein source for the animal. Horses also utilize urea to a certain extent, but they are much less efficient compared to ruminants.

Because urea is so efficiently utilized by cattle as a protein source many cattle supplements on the market include urea as one of the protein sources. CRYSTALYX® cattle supplements are no different. However, because horses have limited microbial activity and can be susceptible to urea toxicity in high doses, urea-containing products are not recommended for horses out of an abundance of caution. But due to low urea content and relatively low intake rates of CRYSTALYX® cattle supplements, one shouldn’t be overly concerned if horses accidently gain access to one of these barrels on a short term basis. If found, immediately remove the product from horses and observe carefully.

In summary, in a perfect world we would offer species-specific products at all times, but it is natural to want to offer one supplement product in pastures containing both cattle and horses. Because the nutritional needs of both of these species are not drastically different, this is often a valid strategy. However, there are some CRYSTALYX® cattle supplements that should be avoided for pastures containing horses. First and foremost, NEVER allow horses access to the CRYSTALYX® Iono-Lyx® Supplement. Secondly, CRYSTALYX® cattle supplements containing urea should not be offered to horses, especially on a long-term basis. These are not highly toxic to horses like ionophores, so it is ok to store them on your farm, as accidental exposure won’t cause problems. If you have any doubts regarding the safety of a product, please call 800-727-2502 to speak to a nutritionist or visit www.crystalyx.com to view product labels and supporting materials. As always, if you suspect toxicity in your horses of any sort, immediately remove the suspect product and call a veterinarian.

*Use of a product contrary to label directions is strictly at your own risk. Ridley Block Operations cannot be held liable for extra-label use of any product.