Because the advantages of feeding fat are accepted almost universally by equine nutritionists, veterinarians, and horsemen, scientists are delving deeper into how certain fats help horses. Researchers have focused much of their attention on omega-3 fatty acids and the relationship between them and omega-6 fatty acids. The two types of fatty acids must be balanced within the body in order for both to be effective. Horses are often fed diets composed entirely of grain mixes and hay. Such diets are rich in omega-6 fatty acids but extremely low in omega-3 fatty acids. If vegetable oil is added to the ration, it further skews the ratio, with omega-6 fatty acids being overrepresented. To help counteract this imbalance, horses should be supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids, the richest sources of which are fish oils.
Kentucky Equine Research developed EO•3™, a potent marine-derived oil that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. EO•3 is a palatable oil that is top-dressed onto the feed. EO•3 contains the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.
- Contains an omega-3 concentration of 35%, more than most common fat supplements
- Supplies omega-3 fatty acids, compounds with positive effects on reproduction, bone development and numerous inflammatory conditions in horses
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Significant members of the omega-3 family are EPA, DHA, and ALA. EPA and DHA are found almost exclusively in fish, namely cold-water species, since they are at the top of a food chain based largely on algae that manufacture EPA and DHA. On the other hand, ALA is found predominantly in leafy plants and flaxseed (linseed).
Omega-6 Fatty Acids
The primary source of omega-6 fatty acids in the diet is LA derived from the oils of seeds and grains. Corn, sunflower, and safflower oil contain abundant quantities of LA. Arachidonic acid (AA) is an intermediate in the metabolism of LA to the various cytokines termed “pro-inflamatory.”
Why should I use EO•3 for my horse?
- Palatable deodorized fish oil with cherry flavor
- Improves glucose tolerance
- Strengthens immune function
- Increases red blood cell flexibility
- Enhances bone metabolism and development
- Benefits of DHA- and EPA-mediated inflammatory response include reduction in joint inflammation, allergic reactivity, exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, and exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage
- Reproductive benefits include improved fertility, improved colostrum quality, enhanced passive transfer of antibodies to foals, and increased sperm concentration, motility, and viability
- Marine-derived long-chain fatty acids DHA and EPA are more efficiently used as precursors of local hormones than plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids
Add 1 to 2 oz (30 to 60 mL) to the feed of growing horses, broodmares, and performance horses in light to moderate work daily. Horses in heavy work, breeding stallions, and those recovering from an illness or injury may be fed 2 to 4 oz (60 to 120 mL) per day. For best results, introduce EO·3 to the ration gradually over a period of 5 to 10 days.
EO•3 – Preferential Source for Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation
Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as flaxseed (linseed) are inferior sources due to inherent metabolic disadvantages. Even though EPA and DHA (20 and 22 carbon, respectively) can be formed in vivo by elongation of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (18 carbon), this process is inefficient and complicated. In addition, the enzymes used in the metabolism of ALA to EPA and DHA are the same enzymes used to elongate LA to AA. When horses consume feeds with greater quantities of LA (omega-6) than ALA (omega-3), the concomitant conversion of LA (18 carbon-omega-6) to AA (20 carbon–omega-6) results in the production of more pro-inflammatory cytokines and prostaglandins.
Only fish oils are direct sources of EPA and DHA. In the past, these oils were typically not as palatable as those that provide more generous quantities of omega-6 fatty acids. However, recent studies at Kentucky Equine Research (KER) have shown that advances in processing technology have overcome the palatability issue inherent in the use of fish oil.
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Composition of Commonly Used Oils
|Oil Type||Omega-3 Concentration||Omega-3:Omega-6||Predominant Omega-3 Source|
|EO•3™||35%||12||EPA and DHA|
|Rice bran oil||1%||0.03||ALA|
|Guaranteed Analysis||Concentration||Per 30 mL|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||35%||9,450 mg|
|DHA and EPA||25%||6,750 mg|
|Omega-6 fatty acids||3%||810 mg|