Last Updated on February 21, 2022 by Allison Price
For many years corn oil was a staple ingredient in horses’ diets. But has this beloved additive lost its appeal? Although corn oil can have its benefits and drawbacks, scientific advances might make this add-on more appealing to horse owners.
Corn oil is completely -fat and was originally used to increase energy density and bulk without adding extra calories. Studies have shown that regular fat supplementation as an energy source can reduce glycogen levels and is beneficial for long-distance exercise. In terms of intense exercise, however corn oil led to higher lactic acid production and higher heart rate in horses that were supplemented with Rice Bran (approximately 20%).
Corn oil is a great energy source in hot months because it produces less heat than other energy components in horses’ diets.
Corn oil should not be used as the sole energy source. Corn oil should not be consumed at a rate exceeding 15% of the daily diet. However, 1-16 ounces per day is sufficient. Excessive oil can cause manure to be contaminated and reduce feed intake. Horses may become bloated if they are given too much oil quickly.
Corn oil has a high digestibility, meaning that horses can use almost all of it once they have adapted to it. Corn oil is the most tasty oil, and no other oil or combination can match it in taste tests. It is liquid so it does not add bulk to feed. Corn oil is a liquid that attracts and holds down dust particles in feed. This makes it a great choice for horses suffering from respiratory problems or those who consume powdered supplements.
Corn oil supplementation has shown that horses with a better coat and shine have a greater ability to move . Studies on corn oil supplementation have also shown a decrease in reactivity. This is why it has been called “calm energy.”
The greatest flaw in corn oil, and the reason it is declining in popularity, are its high omega-6 and low Omega-3 content. These have been shown to promote inflammation in the body. Corn oil, when added to a diet containing hay and grains, can cause a gross imbalance in the omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio. This makes tissues more susceptible to inflammation.
While many of the same benefits are available for corn oil as other vegetable oils such as soybean or canola oil, the omega-6 and omega-3 ratios of other oils are better. Will the health benefits of balancing Omegas outweigh the taste preferences in the search for the perfect oil for horses?