It was back in 2010 at a conference in Denver, Colorado, that I came across a booth where chia seeds were being sold as a dietary supplement for horses. I had never heard of chia seeds! Did you know about them 10 years ago?
Since that time, chia seeds have become a booming crop for horses (and people!). Maybe you’re feeding them to your horses as we speak, or maybe you’re not familiar with them. Either way, I’m here to delve into their benefits, and I believe you’ll appreciate chia seeds even more than before.
Each one measures approximately 1 millimeter – that’s about 1/25th of an inch! But don’t let that sway you – they offer a powerful nutritional punch. They are high in fiber (42%), protein (18%), vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants, but they are best known for their high essential fatty acid content (both omega 3 and 6).
This includes the two essential fatty acids, alpha linolenic acid (ALA) – an omega 3, and linoleic acid (LA) – an omega 6. They are present in a highly favorable 3:1 ratio of omega 3 to 6. This ratio comes close to what is naturally found in living pasture grasses. But most commercially fortified feeds have just opposite ratio where LA exceeds ALA. That’s because most of them use oils such as soybean oil (commonly referred to as “vegetable oil”), corn oil, or safflower oil, all of which are vevery high in LA. The result is an inverted ratio between these two fatty acids, which unfortunately increases inflammation throughout the body. The way to counteract it is to add a source of omega 3s, such as chia seeds, to improve the ratio and reverse the inflammatory response.
Their potent nutraceutical content significantly impacts your horse’s health and vitality by impacting the following conditions:
An 1100 lb (500 kg) horse does well with ¼ cup (2 fluid ounces) to ½ cup (4 fluid ounces) of chia seeds per day, which weighs approximately 2 to 4 ounces (approximately 50 to 100 grams), respectively. For serious health issues, dosing can be increased up to 1 cup (8 fluid ounces or 200 grams) per day, divided between meals. It is best to add water to them and allow them to plump up a bit before being fed, however, they do not need to be soaked and may be fed dry.
Not really. But a few things to consider…
Yes, flax seeds are also wonderful. Offering similar nutrients, they are also high in essential fatty acids and are comparable to chia seeds with a few differences:
All equines can benefit from the addition of chia seeds to the diet. As a whole food, they are nutrient dense in their natural state, offering a vast array of benefits that boost health and improve your horse’s overall quality of life.
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