The Omega Factor
Oil has been added to equine diets for hundreds of years & the benefits have always been unquestionable. In an increasingly competitive environment where horses are pushed to their limits, their nutrition must meet our demands. This means maintaining a balance of omega-3 & 6 fatty acids to achieve optimal health & condition. Modern cereal-based feeds have raised levels of omega-6 which must be stabilised by supplementing with a good quality source of omega-3 & one of the best sources is edible oils. As the Junior Trader within the Bulk Oils Division of the Kerfoot Group, I was convinced that out of a range of over 500 different types of oil, the Kerfoot Group must supply an oil that would be the ideal addition to my horses’ diet.
The most commonly recognised benefit of adding oil to equine diets is the added shine to their coat; however less obvious internal benefits are the most important:
- Ligaments & tendons are less prone to damage during exercise.
- A healthier immune system, essential for horses in training, competition & transportation.
- Increased athletic performance & reduced risk of tying up & muscle fatigue.
- Rebalancing fatty acids can improve attentiveness & reduce excitability.
- Anti-inflammatory properties may improve skin condition & reduce skin irritations.
- Balanced hormones, improving fertility & providing sufficient omega-3 to lactating mares to encourage strong development in their offspring.
The choice of oil is complex but after researching the subject to help me decide which oil to feed to my horses I will attempt to make it a little simpler! The optimum fatty acid ratio for horses is 1 part omega-3 to 2 parts omega-6. My horses receive high levels of omega-6 in their cereal based diet & so it was necessary to supplement this with an oil that has a higher level of omega 3 than 6. The ideal oil to achieve this is Linseed Oil, which contains the right balance of omega 3 and 6.
Introducing any oil into a horse’s diet should be slow & I started by adding 50ml of Kerfoot linseed oil per day & increased gradually to the desired quantity. As a guide, it is recommended that leisure horses are fed 150ml per day & competition horses 300ml per day; but this can be tailored to individual requirements.
After 4 weeks of feeding my horses 250ml of Kerfoot linseed oil per day their coats were gleaming & they had increased energy levels without excitability. During training sessions their stamina increased slightly & they felt less lethargic on warm days. As we head into winter I will increase the amount of linseed oil to maintain the balance of fatty acids as the quantity of cereal-based feed increases. There are definite improvements from supplementing my horses’ diet with Kerfoot Linseed oil & it really is incredible how many uses our oils have!
Joanne Slatcher, KBO Junior TraderBack to all news