Fat For Fuel, Is It Safe For Your Horse?
Is it safe to use Fat as a Fuel for Horses?
Fat is a safe option when looking to add additional calories to your horse’s diet.
Unlike adding carbohydrates (e.g cereal grains), fat is a cool (non-heating) source of calories free from sugars and starches.
The many benefits of fat include –
- Highly digestible in the small intestine (95%)
- Supports healthy coat/skin condition and hoof health
- Can improve behaviour (calming effect)
- No increased laminitis risk
- Safe for horses with Equine Metabolic Syndrome
- Helps alleviate tying-up symptoms
- Safe for the microbiome in the hindgut
- Performance advantage – less/delay in lactic acid production
- It also offers nearly three times the calories of carbohydrates or protein, and is a great way to help meet energy needs to workload or if an increase in body condition is desired.
- Vitamins: A, D, E & K are absorbed best in the presence of fat (fat soluble)
How can fat be introduced into the horse diet?
The addition of a quality oil is one popular way to introduce a fat source in the diet. For first timers, introduce oil into the diet at a lower dose, so the horse’s system gets used to digesting. Up to 10% of the total calories can be safely sourced through fat, and the grain portion of the diet can be reduced and replaced with oil.
Can cooking oil be used in a horse diet?
Cooking oil should be avoided as it is meant for stir frys not horses, some are solvent extracted, high in Omega 6 and over processed.
Horses evolved on grass which contains fat in the form of Omega 3 and Omega 6 at a ratio of 4:1, it makes sense to choose Linseed/Flaxseed oil which is more natural and has a similar Omega profile to grass. It is regarded as the best oil choice for horses by leading nutritionist worldwide.
Written by Bryan Meggitt (BMedSc. PGCrtMedSc.)
Biochemist / Senior Scientist and Co-founder of CEN Horse Nutrition
Bryan is a scientist and equine nutrition educator through the nutrition principles of Dr Juliet Getty and Dr Eleanor Kellon.
Bryan is passionate about improving equine health through natural nutrition according to science.