Last Updated on February 25, 2022 by Allison Price
Q. I’d like my horse to have flax as a supplement to his coat. A friend suggested that I purchase ground stabilized flax. I found flax oil in the feed store when I visited it. The feed store also sells whole flaxseeds, which are much cheaper than oil or ground flaxseeds. I have read that whole flaxseed is not good for horses. Is this true? If so, which flax type should I purchase?
A.Flax, a source of plant-based HTML3 fatty acids, is popular with horses as a supplement to improve their coat quality and support healthy inflammation.
Flaxseeds can be small and hard. If you have ever tried them in bread or breakfast cereal, you will know that they become slimy when they come in contact with saliva. The mucilage they produce when they get wet is what causes this. They can be difficult to chew.
You might think they are difficult to digest. Many human nutrition sources recommend ground flax because it is easier to digest. Horses seem to be able to digest the seeds very well. Many people have reported that their horses see whole flax growing in their manure piles or pastures. This could indicate that the seeds are not being absorbed. This is usually a sign that the horse’s ability digest the seeds has improved over time.
Ground Flax and Stabilized Flax
Ground flax will definitely be easier to digest. The interior of flax can become rancid if the outer hull is broken. Flaxseeds should be ground right before you feed them. You can also buy stabilized flax which has a longer shelf life and resists oxygenation. Ground flax can be sliced instead of ground and may last up to two years.
Flax oil is typically the most expensive form of the three. Flax oil is almost entirely made of the seeds’ fat, but the whole seeds contain protein, carbohydrate, and vitamins. Most people feed them the fat portion. You might only want to shine the coat and provide omega-3 fatty acid sources. However, 4-8 ounces of seed could be fed daily. To achieve the same amount of fat, you would only need half the oil. This way, you might find that the cost difference is not so significant.
Make sure that the flax oil you are using has been cold-pressed. This ensures that fats have not been subject to heat or other harmful processing. Oils are not for everyone because they can be messy. Flax oil is not very stable and can easily go rancid so it’s important to keep it cool and dark.
Each flax variety has its pros and cons. Whole seeds are more affordable and can resist oxidation, but may not be fully absorbed. Ground flax is more stable, but it’s easier to absorb. Although oil is more expensive, it is richer in omega fats. All three types of flax can improve the coat quality of your horse’s horse. Your preference will determine which flax you choose.