Maximize Health and Safety with Vegetable Oil Feeding

By Tom Seest

How to Safely Feed Vegetable Oil to Horses

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Oil may be an easy and efficient way to aid weight gain and increase coat shine in horses, however before making that decision it is essential that several factors are taken into account before adding oil into their diet.
How much vegetable oil you feed to your horse depends on both their weight and workload as well as your reasons for adding vegetable oils to their diet.

How to Safely Feed Vegetable Oil to Horses

How to Safely Feed Vegetable Oil to Horses

How Does Vegetable Oil Benefit Horses?

Horses obtain energy through various sources, from forage and grains to pelleted feed and foraging for food. Their exact energy needs depend on both body size and activity level; two major sources are carbohydrates and fats.
Carbs provide energy in the form of four kilocalories per gram of carbohydrates for horses, making grains like oats, corn, and barley suitable sources.
Protein provides horses with essential sources of energy and can be found in many different forages, such as grasses and legumes. The level of protein present will depend on both its species and maturity when feeding it to your horse.
Importantly, it’s crucial to recognize that the type of protein consumed by horses will determine how much energy they gain from their diet. The higher its protein content is, the more energy will come from its diet.
Vegetable oils provide horses with another excellent source of energy. With about three times as many calories per gram than grains, vegetable oils offer an effective way to increase caloric intake without increasing meal sizes.
There are various varieties of vegetable oils, such as soybean oil, sunflower oil and linseed oil that horses may benefit from using depending on their activity level and physical state. Which oil your horse opts for depends upon their activity level and body condition.
When adding vegetable oil to a horse’s diet, it is generally best to do it gradually. Start off small and gradually increase it over the course of several weeks until reaching desired level.
Once a horse has adjusted to eating oil, it is crucial that they maintain a consistent feeding schedule in order to limit its consumption and prevent soft manure production as well as fiber fermentation issues in their hindguts.
Addition of fat sources can help a horse gain weight more rapidly or improve performance during training or competition, but too much oil intake should not occur in one day or over an extended period of time; doing so could harm its digestive system as well as cause other nutritional problems within their diet.

How Does Vegetable Oil Benefit Horses?

How Does Vegetable Oil Benefit Horses?

How Can Vegetable Oil Benefit Your Horse?

Oils provide horses with an additional source of fat and energy to fuel their diet, and increase calorie consumption if necessary to maintain weight and performance. Oils also make an effective addition to underweight horses who require additional calories in their diet to achieve success and remain weight stable.
Vegetable oils contain various fatty acids, such as saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated ones. Each of these types of fatty acids provides different health benefits for horses; some can help reduce inflammatory responses while supporting joint mobility.
Linseed and canola oils are two natural vegetable oils with high Omega 3 fatty acid levels to feed to your horse, while fish oil, flaxseed oil and camelina oil may also be suitable.
Many of these oils provide essential nutrition such as Vitamin E (an antioxidant that supports immune health and protects cell membranes from free radical damage), Gamma Oryzanol (which supports exercise recovery by improving muscle tone and endurance) and Lecithins (promoters of gut health, aids digestion and may be used to heal gastric ulcers).
To maximize the benefits of vegetable oil, it is recommended to gradually introduce it. This allows your digestive tract time to adapt and prevents digestive upset.
Vegetable oil provides both Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids which are vital to horse health, so consuming an appropriate balance is important.
If you’re unsure which oil would best benefit your horse, consulting an equine nutritionist may be beneficial in providing guidance as to which source to utilize. They will also assist with how much to feed.
Consult an equine veterinarian regularly to make sure that your horse is receiving all the essential vitamins, essential fatty acids and protein needed from its food. A veterinarian may even suggest a tailored diet plan with essential fatty acids, protein and vitamins that is tailored specifically for them.

How Can Vegetable Oil Benefit Your Horse?

How Can Vegetable Oil Benefit Your Horse?

What Are the Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

Horses cannot produce the necessary omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids on their own, making their consumption vital to maintaining optimal brain, skin, hair and bone health as well as hormone production. Both types are important components of an ideal diet for horses.
Both ALA and LA are proven to play an essential role in controlling inflammation response in the body, helping manage illness or injury and facilitate recovery from disease. Therefore, it’s vital that a horse’s diet contains an appropriate ratio of omega 3 to 6 essential fatty acids.
Equines have evolved on diets that offer them the optimal balance of ALA and LA, with grasses providing more of both than other forms of feed such as hay; therefore, they receive all their essential nutritional needs from fresh grass. Hay does not contain either essential fatty acid.
Assuring your horse receives sufficient ALA and LA requires supplementing with both of these fatty acids; most commonly found in ground, stabilized flaxseed meal or cold-pressed flax oil supplements.
Add hemp oil to the diet, though remember this source only offers stearidonic acid and should not be confused with Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils. Hemp oil has proven its worth as an excellent way to increase omega-3 levels without increasing inflammation levels in horses.
Hemp oil provides essential omega-9 fatty acids that aid in managing healthy cholesterol levels in the body; however, these fatty acids do not offer as many advantages to horses as the omega-3s found in vegetable oil.
The most efficient and straightforward way of providing your horse with EPA and DHA is through using an omega-3 supplement that contains both ALA and EPA/DHA in an easily absorbable form – known as Eicosapentaenoic acid or EO-3. This tool can support immunity, promote cardiovascular health, aid reproduction and bone development as well as reduce inflammation.

What Are the Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

What Are the Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

Is Vegetable Oil Beneficial for Your Horse’s Diet?

If you want to increase the calorie density of your horse’s diet, vegetable oils could be an ideal addition. They contain protein, fats, and Omega-3 fatty acids – three nutrients that contribute to overall horse health.
Vegetable oils are produced by processing various plant crops such as corn, canola, cottonseed, soybean and rice into vegetable oils using chemicals designed to extract maximum oil from each grain.
Chemical processes used to extract oil are highly damaging, depriving grains of essential nutrients while altering their texture, taste and color. Furthermore, free electrons released during extraction are released into our bodies, causing inflammation and cell damage and leading to chronic diseases like cancer or related ones that contribute to premature aging.
Due to this reason, it is crucial that you choose an oil that comes from high-quality vegetable crops and that meets organic certification criteria. Preferably, look for non-trans-fatty, cold-pressed oil derived from seeds or legumes grown without genetic modification and that are cold-pressed.
Offering your horse an adequate intake of essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids) is beneficial as this can help to decrease inflammation in stressed horses or those that have experienced extensive exercise. Flaxseed meal, chia seeds and fish oil may be good sources to consider for supplementing with essential fatty acids.
These sources contain high concentrations of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an Omega-3 fatty acid which cannot be produced naturally in horses’ bodies, for maximum effectiveness they should be combined with grass sources of ALA for best results.
Selecting a high-quality vegetable oil that contains sufficient Vitamin E levels to digest its unsaturated fatty acids effectively – canola, sunflower, and cottonseed oils being particularly suitable in this regard.
The addition of vegetable oil is simple and effective if done in moderation; simply remember not to overdo it! Aim to provide no more than 2% fat intake as part of their daily caloric needs.

Is Vegetable Oil Beneficial for Your Horse's Diet?

Is Vegetable Oil Beneficial for Your Horse’s Diet?

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