A Well Oiled Machine – Part One from Keyflow Feeds UK
Oils are a great source of energy and when fed correctly, they have a whole raft of added health benefits. To achieve these benefits however, it is extremely important that horse owners recognise the difference between an oil high in omega 6 and an oil rich in omega 3.
There is a distinct difference between short chain and long chain omega 3’s (DHA). When fed correctly these omega 3’s have some seriously good health and performance benefits that will affect your horse directly.
5 Things You Need To Know About Feeding Oil1) Omega 3 (especially long chain) is magical stuff – it helps support respiratory systems, coat and skin condition, joint support and fertility.2) Need cool condition? Oil is an excellent, starch free source of slow release calories.3) Introduce oil slowly. Some horses can get loose droppings from too much oil, or oil introduced too quickly into the diet.4) Keep it balanced – use a trusted brand that is blended and balanced specifically for horses.5) Check the oil levels in your current feed. Some already contain high levels of oil, so you may not need to add more.
DHA Rich Oils – A Horses Best FriendResults from ongoing studies around the world have provided a wealth of evidence to show how omega-3 fatty acids alter biochemical and molecular processes. The data shows consistent and reproducible beneficial effects for man and animals of omega-3 fatty acids on bone metabolism, bone/joint diseases, gene expression, immunocompetence and disease resistance. Omega-3 fatty acids have a central role to play in maintaining health and also in the management and prevention of many ‘modern’ diseases.
Omega 3 oils alter cell wall flexibility, support immune function, control the body’s response to inflammation and provide an additional source of anti-oxidants. When omega 3 oils are returned to the diet, a reduction in cholesterol, clotting abnormalities and blood pressure have been reported in clinical studies in animals and in man. Other studies highlight the importance of Omega 3 fatty acids in reducing pain and inflammation in human patients with degenerative joint disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis.
Omega 3 oils provide an important source of omega 3 fatty acids. Fatty acids form a crucial role in the body, being part of the lipid bi-layer in cell membranes throughout the body.
The relative amounts of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids found in these cell membranes has been shown to be influenced by their relative abundance in the diet.As the Omega 3 content of the diet increases, so does the structural content of cell membranes, which helps mediate their positive physiological effects. Importantly for performance or competition horses, omega 3 oils have been shown to have an impact on the membrane structure of red blood cell walls –increasing their flexibility and fluidity. This is an advantage during exercise as the cells can pass more easily through the narrow capillaries in the lungs and muscles, making oxygen uptake and delivery as well as waste product removal, more efficient. This may also help to reduce pressure in the fine capillaries of the lungs, reducing the chance of exercise-induced haemorrhage (bleeding). Human athletes with omega 3-supplemented diets report improved performance and less delayed muscle soreness with this being attributed to improved oxygen delivery, and anti-oxidant status in association with the protective affect omega 3 oils have against inflammation.
Sub optimal dietary intake of micronutrients such as zinc, biotin and methionine are well known to contribute to poor hoof quality. It may be less widely known that omega 3 fatty acids also have an important role to play and an insufficient dietary omega 3 intake has been linked to hoof defects such as shelly feet. Whilst other nutrients can be easily provided through the normal concentrate feed, omega-3 oil needs to be specifically supplemented.
Omega 3 fatty acids are also noted for their beneficial effect on maintaining skin health. Inflammation and the severity of itching was reduced in horses with Queensland itch when supplemented with omega 3 oils for just 6 weeks. The omega 6 content of the hair was also found to be reduced during the corresponding period.
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