You probably already glug some form of oil over your teams nightly feed and, if you do, you’ve probably experienced some degree of success by doing so. That’s because no matter which oil you use, they’re all a fantastically rich source of calories, and calories equal energy.
Oil is an extremely powerful weapon in your arsenal, but only when fed correctly.
Read on for some straightforward advice on how to approach feeding oils. You might find it helps your horses reach the line a tad sooner.
Avoid Oils High in Omega 6
As you know, horses evolved eating only pasture, which is naturally high in omega 3. By contrast, grains are typically high in Omega 6. This means that a large majority of racehorse diets are inherently high in Omega 6.
It’s a good idea to address this in-balance by top-dressing an oil that is high in Omega 3 – not Omega 6.
This is why, (in a nutshell)… All the omega families (3,6 and 9) play a vital role in the formation of hormones in horses. Hormones regulate inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses. Hormones created with omega 6 are 100 – 1000 times more inflammatory than hormones created by omega 3.
Omega 6 does play a role and shouldn’t be excluded from the diet, but the trick is balancing the ratio with Omega 3. You should always be looking to increase the overall level of omega 3 and decrease the level of omega 6.
Below is a table showing some common feed oils, the good omega 3 oils will help swing the overall omega 3/6 ratio in the diet towards Omega 3.
Feed a marine based oil
Without getting too technical, fish oils contain a certain type of Omega 3 called Docosahexanoic acid (DHA). It is this DHA that is responsible for some significant benefits to racehorses when fed at the correct levels.
DHA has been shown to increase red blood cell flexibly.
Red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen to the muscles. When they are flexible they slip and slide past each other better, creating more efficient blood flow and oxygen delivery. These same cells are responsible for removing lactic acid from the muscles on their return trip to the lungs.
Cell wall flexibility plays a major role when the horse is under duress, its heart rate is above 240bpm and it’s reaching for the line. At this level of exercise the blood is actually thicker and the density of the cells increases making flexibility even more crucial.
Normal vegetable source Omega 3 (-linolenic acid) is a precursor to DHA, and the horse can convert this to DHA once ingested. This however, is a highly inefficient process and is approximately 500% less effective than if you feed a primary source of DHA such as fish oil.
Why not Cod-Liver Oil?
Cod liver Oil contains high levels of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D and E. These vitamins are good, but should not be fed at high levels; this limits the dual benefits of feeding enough oil for energy and for its performance functions.
How to Begin Feeding Oil
When introducing any oil to the diet it should be done so gradually. We recommend starting with just 25mls per day and increasing this to the desired rate over the following 10-14 days. The horses digestive system takes time to get used to the oil so a slow increase is the way to go.
If you are simply switching the type of oil you are feeding then it is fine to just change over without the need for a gradual introduction.
Equine Specific Key-3 Oil
Keyflow® Key-3 Oil is an equine specific blend of cold-pressed vegetable oils, salmon oil and garlic. By blending the oils we can carefully set the all important Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio, as well as include the primary source of DHA, salmon oil. The addition of Garlic makes the oil highly palatable.
By feeding Key-3 the astute trainer will be balancing the omega ratio in the diet, feeding efficient DHA and providing a concentrated source of calories all at the same time.
- All oils are a great source of energy
- Avoid feeding oils high in Omega 6 such as Soya Oil as they can promote inflammatory reactions.
- Marine based oils contain the all important DHA
- DHA improves blood flow, circulation and oxygen delivery.
- The easiest way to feed oil for effective performance is to use Key-3 Oil