Flax Vs. Rice Bran: Flax Seed Meal Offers Higher Omega 3 Concentration
Improved Nervous System & Digestive Systems and Fewer Arthritis Issues Often Observed In Horses Fed Flax Seed Meal
Amy M Gill, PhD
Flax or Rice Bran: Which is Better for Your Horse?
When rice bran first appeared on the feeding scene, it was an excellent alternative to using high starch supplements to provide extra fat in equine diets. Containing about 18% fat, rice bran (meal or pellets) was a safe, healthy alternative for providing extra calories to horses needing to gain weight or in heavy training.
Today we realize while rice bran is an excellent source of calories, the fat it contains has a high concentration of Omega-6 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid (EFA) horses require in their diets. However, horses already get enough Omega-6 from the stabilized fats in their feed. So if supplemental calories are needed, it is best to pick a product that provides more Omega-3 fatty acids, such as stabilized flaxseed meal.
Flaxseed meal contains about 34% fat, which helps keep the hindgut healthy. It also has a high concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Health benefits include:
- Reduced inflammation in exercised horses and may offer some benefits for reduced inflammation due to arthritis in older horses
- Increased strength and stamina due to positive effects on the endocrine system producing the hormones and enzymes necessary for enhanced athletic performance
- Increased insulin sensitivity and efficiency, promoting the synthesis of muscle and the ability for cell to utilize nutrients efficiently
- Improved ability to transport and utilize oxygen, improving stamina
- Increased elasticity of connective tissue and bone density
- Shortened recovery time from exercise and injury because of the factors listed above and an enhanced immune system
- Improved permeability of cellular membranes, allowing improved nutrient uptake and removal of toxic metabolites resulting from intense bouts of exercise
- Improved reproductive performance in breeding animals
Feeding EFAs has also been shown to improve respiratory conditions and help accelerate the healing of quarter cracks and other skin and hoof disorders. Several studies have also shown improved quality of semen characteristics in stallions supplemented with Omega-3 fatty acids. The addition of EFAs can help keep horses healthy and performing well, and possibly reduce veterinary costs.
If you are looking to improve your horse’s body condition and/or overall health and want to add calories safely with a fat supplement, use a ground flaxseed product instead of a rice bran meal product. It will provide the added health benefits of the good Omega-3 fatty acids that are lacking in most equine feeding programs with a higher fat content.
Triple Crown Omega Max is a 100% stabilized golden ground flax supplement for horses. It is reasonably priced compared to rice bran, providing a more nutritious option for about the same cost.