The importance of Omega 3 in the equine diet
A ‘redneck’ polo player once told us that horses don’t need Omega oils… little did he know about its importance within the equine diet! Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid which cannot be made by the horse’s body and must be present in the equine daily diet for them to be truly healthy.
As herbivores and nomadic grazers, horses are naturally adapted to a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (ALA). The little bit of fat found in forages, particularly fresh pasture, is naturally high in ALA (omega-3) whereas oils from some grains and seeds tend to be higher in LA (omega-6). Flax seed (otherwise known as linseed) and chia seeds, are all sources of omega 3.
Historically, under natural conditions, horses consume an approximately 5:1 ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6, which is the ratio found in grass and green hay. The modern equine diet, which is primarily grain-based, has a low (less than 1:10) ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6. Specialised supplements can help achieve the desired ratio of fatty acids in the diet to maintain balance and support horse health.
Why are Omega Fatty Acids Important?
The health benefits of Omega fatty acids include:
- Strong hooves: maintain pliability and hoof moisture enhancing and increasing tissue elasticity
- Shiny, healthy skin and a glossy coat: Supporting health skin to develop resilience against irritations and allergies
- Maintaining joint health: Contributing to the maintenance and building of bone strength and density
- Enhancing and building immunity resilience
- Supports energy production for horses in heavy/competition work
The benefits from providing omega fatty acids in the diet take from 30 – 90 days of supplementation before benefits are detectable, so be patient and make sure your expectations are realistic.
Oh, and don’t forget to save the krill and fish & chips for the humans…
Source material: https://forageplus.co.uk/omega-3-horses-importance-equine-diets/