Horse Health Tip - Brought to You by KAM Animal Services

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tip of the Week - Fat's - Yummy!

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 pellet.

Supplementing EFAs 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 starting in January. Go to to sign up for the January 10th and January 31st webinars. The KELC FREE webinars will conclude with a question and answer session, so be ready with your nutrition questions.