Feeding Oil to Horses: Choose Wisely

Last Updated on February 21, 2022 by Allison Price

When horses owners want to increase their energy consumption to gain weight or add sheen to their coats, they often reach for a jug vegetable oil. There are so many options, how can you choose the right one?

Catherine Whitehouse M.S., nutrition adviser for Kentucky Equine Research, stated that all oils contain 100% fat so there are no differences in the calories they provide. There are variations in the amount of HTML3 and HTML6 fatty acids among oils that are commonly fed to horses. Because horses cannot produce these fatty acid in their bodies, they rely on their diet for them, these fatty acids are particularly interesting to researchers.

Cereal grains have a higher percentage of omega-6s than omega-3s. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 for cereal grains could be as low as 1:10. Horses that are fed large amounts of cereal grains might have a lower ratio of omega-3 to Omega-6 in their total diet. This could lead to a higher intake of omega-6s than omega-3s.

When adding oil to your diet, you should choose a product with more omega-3s. “The average omega composition of common oils includes soybean oil at 1:16, corn oil and canola oil at 1:2. These are omega-3 to Omega-6. Whitehouse explained that soybean oil or canola oil is a better option than corn oil for boosting calories and maintaining omega balance.

Although fish oil is high in omega-3 and omega-6, it is not used to increase energy intake. It is used as a supplement to deliver the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acids) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acids) to reduce inflammation and immune-related conditions. EO*3 is the best fish oil.

The reason you are feeding your horse depends on how much oil you need. A third to one-half cup (80 to 120 ml) of oil per daily might be enough to give gloss to the horse’s hair coat. Whitehouse said that if the goal of the ration is to increase its calorie density, approximately 2 cups (500ml) of oil per days might be used.

Top-dressing oils should be limited to 3.5 oz per 220lb (100ml per 100kg) of body weight. A horse weighing 1,200 lb (550 kg) would be fed 19 oz (or just over 2 cups) of top-dressing oils per day. This could be split into two or more feedings.

Whitehouse recommended that horses be gradually acclimated with oil. He suggested starting with a quarter cup (60ml) of oil in a meal, and then increasing the amount by one-quarter cup every other week. This is a slower introduction than most people use. However, it allows horses to adjust to fat. It will also reduce the possibility of soft manure which can be a common, though temporary, side effect of oil.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!