In this new feature, we invite experts to answer your burning questions – please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an equine nutrition enquiry. (Your questions may be shortened to fit the available space.) This month, Sarah Butler BSc (Hons) Equine Sports Science – Blue Chip Equine Specialist – shares her expertise…
Q. How do I know what fats are good for my horse and what are their benefits?
Mark Standing, Lincs
A. Horse’s digestive systems digest and absorb nutrients in a very different way to humans. Feeding your horse oil or high fat feeds isn’t going to give your horse high cholesterol! Horses can definitely benefit from the inclusion of fats and oils in their diet, fed alongside a good quality fibre.
Fats can come in a number of different forms such as oils, linseed meal and coconut based feeds such as copra. Fats and oils are considered slow release energy sources which mean they gradually release energy into the horse’s blood stream helping to reduce the risk of hyperactive behaviour. Fats have twice as many calories as carbohydrates making them very calorie-dense, for example one cup of oil provides the same amount of energy as 700g of oats.
Remember that all oils have the same amount of energy, and it is their ratio of essential fatty acids Omega-3 and 6 which separates them. Omega-3 is natural anti-inflammatory helping to reduce prostaglandins responsible for pain and inflammation in the horses’ body. Linseed oil is almost 60% pure Omega-3 fatty acids and is one of the richest plant based sources of Omega-3. Conversely, Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for immune function and tissue repair within the horses’ body; soya oils are a rich source of Omega-6 which is almost 50% Omega-6. Omega-3 and Omega-6 work synergistically within the horses’ body and it is important to select oil which contains both of these essential fatty acids in the correct ratio.
Blue Chip feed balancers include high levels of soya and linseed oils in an ideal balance; they contain essential nutrients needed for optimal health in one convenient bag. Blue Chip Feed’s new feed balancer, Original Native, supplies elevated levels of soya and linseed oils to help enhance coat shine and promote a strong mane, tail and feathers for Native Ponies.
Q. How can I boost coat condition ready for the show season?
Carly Watson, Norfolk
A. Coat condition is a combination of feeding the right diet that provides all the essential nutrients, and good grooming. A balanced diet is paramount to producing a show quality coat.
There are particular nutrients essential for improving coat condition; zinc is widely known for its involvement in the formation of keratin, helping to improve the quality of the hair on a structural level. Zinc also helps to support the oil glands which nourish the hair follicles, to protect them and prevent breakages. Copper is another trace mineral known for helping to improve coat condition. Copper is heavily involved in supporting the integrity of the structural protein found in the skin, collagen and helps to promote healthy skin providing by providing a strong foundation for healthy hair to grow.
Feeding oil in your horse’s daily ration will help strengthen your horse’s hair, preventing breakages and allowing the coat to lie flat against your horse’s skin. Dietary oil feeds the hair oil glands, resulting in a strong, shiny coat. Blue Chip feed balancers contain good sources of organic zinc and copper which are readily absorbed and utilised by the horses’ body to boost condition.
The pictures in this article show ‘before’ and ‘after’ of Adam Winbourne’s horse Mika who was given Blue Chip balancers.
Visit www.bluechipfeed.com or call 0114 266 6200