Want to know whats actually in all these oils you see in the feedshop?
Bascially we feed oil for 2 reasons:
1. It is a great source of cool energy = fats
Meaning it wont make your horse fizzy or cause unwanted behaviour.
Its also dense energy, so you dont need to feed as much and so the bulk of the feed is reduced. Oil is basically 3x as much energy as oats so a great way to add calories and coat shine!
2. Oils can contain essentail fatty acids.
These are generally omega 3 which is anti-inflammatory and has been shown in research to enhance overall health in horses. This essential fatty acid is vital for inflammation, immunity, growth, strength, behavioural balance, learning ability and motor co-ordination, as well as assisting most of the functions of the omega 6 essential fatty acid.
Omega 6 is a necessary inflammatory acid.
When your horse is at pasture they will be consuming Omega 3 and 6 from the grass.
However research does show if you add Omegas to the diet you can influence and improve many health issues in the horse particulary those involving inflammation.
In terms of how much, research is not conclusive as to the amount of omega 3 and omega 6 in the diet, except we know that we want a maximum ratio of 1:1
And as Omega 3 is anti inflammatory you always want to add more of that if adding into feed.
One of my go to oils is straight flaxseed oil, as it has Omega 3 and 6, in a ratio of 4:1 This oil contains ALA (omega 3).
However the horses ability to convert these omegas into EPA and DHA is fairly inefficient. So feeding 50ml to a 500kg horse wont be really doing much.
This is one of the reasons manufacturers offer a fish or marine derived oil component, as it contains straight EPA & DHA which is taken up by the body and utilized much faster. But ofcourse it is more expensive.
Also some folk don’t think horses as herbivores should be fed marine feedstuffs.
At the end of the day there are a million products to choose from, so read the label and pick one that suits your horses requirements best and pay particular attention to the omega 3 contant of the diet as a whole.