Q&A on Feeding Oils
I would like to ask your opinion on feeding oil to horses. I have done a little research on this online but have come across conflicting information.
I have in previous winters fed a little ½ cup cold pressed canola in my horses feed, but was considering changing to Cod Liver Oil, for it’s Vitamin A & D & Omega 3 content. A&D due to lack on sunlight exposure due to my girls both wearing cool heat blankets, and Omega3 to assist with my old mare’s arthritis.
I try to feed my girls as natural as I can. All they receive is 50/50 chaff, some whole oats and their vitamin supplement (HiForm Completavite) and an endless supply of grass hay.
As I have said I have found conflicting information online for feeding both types of oil to horses. Your expert (natural) opinion would be greatly appreciated.
Answered by Carol Layton Independent Equine Nutritionist https://www.balancedequine.com.au
There sure is a lot of conflicting information out there which is why I decided to do equine nutrition courses. I recommend Dr Eleanor Kellon VMD NRCPlus www.drkellon.com if you are ever keen. The answer is that the only oil to contain omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 in the same ratio as grass/vegetation is linseed/flax. Chia is not as good but is an alternative.
More information here: https://www.balancedequine.com.au/nutrition/linseed.html
By the way, the only vitamin that may need to be supplemented for a horse on a high forage diet (exercise, more hay than grass) is vitamin E. The other vitamins are either manufactured by the horse and/or found in grass and hay. Any excess is generally excreted. This may be a bit hard to understand but any commercial ‘one size fits all’ mineral supplement is better than no mineral supplementation at all, but extremely unlikely to balance any kind of diet as situations/intake vary widely across Australia and can even be from one property to the next.
Mineral levels in pasture and hay are highly dependent on a range of factors including soil pH, past land use, fertiliser history, pasture species and so forth. Balancing means sufficient levels of minerals and the ratios balanced to prevent secondary deficiencies. Mineral mixes that have a smorgasbord of vitamins and minerals (kitchen sink approach) have been demonstrated over and over to me and other NRCPlus graduates to not contain enough of what is needed and have a bunch of stuff that will be excreted for horses on a high forage diet.
Did you know?
Researchers have observed that free-ranging horses (i.e., those feeding in a “natural” manner) generally have 10 to 15 “distinct feeding bouts” in a 24-hour span, and tend to spend 10 to 14 hours per day foraging. Ellis noted that “nonfeeding” bouts typically last for an hour or two and rarely exceed three hours. Read the rest of this article – Feeding Behavior: What’s Natural for Your Horse?