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Iron is typically high, but sometimes I'll receive an analysis that looks like this one. This particular analysis easily exceeds toxic levels of iron.
What is a horse owner to do? Don't panic and don't start shopping for new hay.
Typically when iron is this high it is caused by surface contamination. Here are a few examples on how this may occur:
* A dirt clump was in the sample submitted to the lab.
* The farmer cut to close to the ground.
* It has been a wet rainy season causing dirt to splash up onto the grass.
If your analysis has exceptionally high iron levels, here are a few options:
1) Submit a new sample. Take your sample and place it in a kitchen colander. Shake / stir the sample around so small particles fall through the holes. Submit the hay that is still in the colander.
2) Shake your hay prior to feeding it. Discard the small particles that fall off the hay.
3) Rinse your hay. You don't need to soak it, just give it a quick rinse and serve.
Typically when owners submit a new sample that they have shaken out first, I see roughly a 50% decrease in iron.
When balancing trace minerals to an analysis like this, I usually go by regional averages. I also discuss with the horse owner to keep an eye out for signs they may need additional copper and zinc. Such as a fading coat, reddish tinged tips on the mane or tail, or a decrease in hoof quality. I do want to mention that over the years I have run into a few horses that, despite a tightly balanced diet, will fade a bit. They are all individuals of course!