Many horses crave
fats, just as we do. However, not all fats are created equally.
“Good” fats are called Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) because
they are essential to live and function optimally.
An indication that
your horse is extremely deficient in EFAs is dry and/or itchy
skin and a dull hair coat. The brain and nervous system is
composed primarily of fats.
The membrane of
every cell in the body is made of fats. Fats are used to balance
the immune system and inflammatory response. They are needed for
hormone synthesis and vitamin absorption.
Fats help protect
organs, including the liver, kidneys, and skin from damage. Fats
provide long term energy during exercise.
No wonder the
source and quality of the fats in the diet affects health and
performance. Fats are fragile and are easily destroyed in
processing (heat) or if exposed to air without being protected
(stabilized or chelated) to prevent oxidation. Some “bad” fats,
such as corn oil and mixed vegetable oils, are pro-inflammatory and
can contribute to making muscles and joints sore.
Fats have different
speeds for providing energy. Coconut oils provides energy almost
immediately while Rice Bran is much slower and supplies fuel for the
next day. Rice Bran, being digested in the small intestine,
increases blood sugar levels and stimulates insulin production much
more than other fat sources.
For these reasons,
feeding a variety of “good” fats is best. Some of the best sources
and ratios of omega fatty acids for horses are flax seed, hemp, rice
bran, and coconut oil, which are found together in KAM’s ANS fat
twice a day allows for optimal digestion and utilization of the
fats. Feeding whole flax seed is good, but it needs to be soaked
for hours to soften the hull so the horse can digest it and absorb
the nutrients. If the flax seed is cracked or ground without being
stabilized, the EFAs will be oxidized and useless in a matter of
minutes. In short, fats are good but they need to be good fats!
This tip was
brought to you by
KAM Animal Services,
home of KAM’s “Equine Learning Circle” (KELC) FREE webinars,
which will take
place twice a month from January through June of 2011.
to sign up for this webinar. The KELC FREE webinar
will conclude with a question and answer session, so be ready with
your nutrition questions.