Valuable Oil Supplement to Improve your Horse’s Performance

Valuable Oil Supplement to Improve your Horse’s Performance
5 July 2017 | Foran Equine

 

Using oil in horses’ diets is not new. It is now becoming increasingly popular, both through the use of rations with high oil inclusion rates and oil supplementation.

Adding Oil to Your Horse’s Diet Plan

Using oil in horses’ diets is not new. It is now becoming increasingly popular, both through the use of rations with high oil inclusion rates and oil supplementation.

Oil is an excellent source of calories for the horse and can reduce their requirement for grain. As oil is a non-heating type of feed, it gives more energy in the feed, without making the horse a crazy bag of nerves at competition time. Using oil to reduce the grain intake also reduces the risk of hindgut acidosis. An inclusion rate of up to 10% oil in the total diet is well tolerated by the horse’s digestive system.

Avoid Low Quality Oil Supplements

As oil can be an inexpensive source of calories, compared to oats, there can be a temptation to use cheaper low quality oil in your horse’s ration. Low quality oils will increase the calorie and hence energy content of the diet, and by replacing some of the more expensive grain content makes for a cheaper ration. However it is not necessarily what is best for your horse.

Supplement your Horse’s Diet with Essential Omega Fatty Acids

Oils that provide an optimum balance of the Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids are far more desirable in your horses feed.

Omega 3 and 6 are polyunsaturated fats, which are required for normal functions in a healthy body such as, hormone production and new cell formation. These Essential Fatty Acids are large, complex molecules however, which cannot be produced by the body and so must be supplied by the diet.

Most horse owners are familiar with the benefits of polyunsaturated fats and Omega 3 and 6 oils to their own health.

These types of oils are also beneficial to your horse.

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  • Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Advantages of Including Omega 3 Fatty Acids in your Horse’s Diet

Omega 3 is considered the “anti-inflammatory” essential fatty acid. It functions in the course of typical immune reactions to dampen the inflammatory response in the body and prevent self injury. Furthermore Omega 3 has a role in maintaining the health of cells and cell walls and has been shown to increase sperm production in horses.

Omega 3 has three major sub-types; Eicopentaneoic acid (EPA), Docohexaenoic acid (DHA) and Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). EPA and DHA are found in fish oils. ALA is found in leafy plants, such as fresh grass, with linseed oil being a particularly rich source.  EPA and DHA are the most active forms of Omega 3 within the body. ALA can be converted to EPA or DHA by herbivores for biological activity.

Advantages of Including Omega 6 Fatty Acids in your Horse’s Feed

Omega 6 is considered the “pro-inflammatory” essential fatty acids. Again it functions as part of the course of normal immune reactions, but it potentiates the inflammatory response in the body, helping in the elimination of harmful infections. Omega 6 also has a role in maintaining cell and cell wall health and has been shown to particularly benefit skin and coat condition.

Omega 6 is naturally present in grains and seeds, sunflower and corn oil are particularly well known sources.

Summary of Oil Benefits in Horse Diets

When considering Omega 3 and Omega 6, it is best to consider them as two nutrients, for which an optimum balance must be maintained. It is not a case of good (anti-inflammatory) Omega 3 versus bad (pro-inflammatory) Omega 6. They do not prevent or cause inflammation; they merely influence its course. As such it is best to maintain an Omega 3: Omega 6 intake balance of somewhere close to 4:1. Horses have naturally evolved with a similar Omega 3: Omega 6 intake balance from grass.

Horses however that are fed grain based diets with hay or haylage will have a relatively larger intake of Omega 6 to Omega 3. Supplementing their diet with Omega 6 rich oil further unbalances the normal ratio.

However, supplementing with the following oils will help redress the natural balance of these essential fatty acids:

  • Linseed Oil
  • Karron Oil
  • Fish Oil
Blended Vegetable Oil Corn Oil (Omega 6 rich)

Linseed Oil/ Karron Oil (Omega 3 rich)

Non-heating energy Yes Yes Yes
Coat Shine Yes Yes Yes
Benefit skin and coat condition Yes Yes
Reduced inflammation Yes
Benefits joints Yes
Increase sperm production Yes

If you’re looking for any advice on what oil to give your horse to improve their health or performance; get in-touch with one of our equine nutrition experts by leaving them a quick question

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