What’s the Deal with Horses and Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds have exploded onto the equine market in recent years, being advertised as a miracle seed for our majestic friends. And it’s true! Chia seeds are a miracle in themselves. These seeds are tiny tablets filled with all the nutrients and goodies you can ask for. In fact, chia seeds are one of the most nutrient-dense snacks you can buy for your horse, and healthier than many other seeds (talking to you, sunflower seeds!). You can use these natural marvels as totally organic replacements for a lot of otherwise “less natural” supplements. Not only are chia seeds healthy and rich in good sources of calcium and vitamins, but they are also palatable for horses – they love eating them! – and they are easy to digest.
What Are the Nutritional Properties of Chia Seeds?
The list is long. Chia seeds, believe it or not, are the absolute highest source of omega-3 that occurs naturally… in nature! They even have a ratio of 3:1 between omega-3 fatty acid and omega-6 fatty acid. That’s almost too much to believe. Then you have the oil to think about. Chia seed oil is higher in omega-3 than flaxseed oil: 63% against 58%. Chia seeds make an abundant source of vitamin B and have a stronger content of niacin than soy, rice, or even corn. Then we have some other sources found in chia seeds: phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, copper, and calcium.
Another bonus of chia seeds is that they can be stored for ages. You can keep a stockpile of chia seeds in your cellar for up to five years before it goes rancid like other stockpiled oils do. These seeds can stand strong against unbearable temperatures, giving them an extraordinarily long shelf life.
How Many Chia Seeds Should I Feed My Horse?
You can feed your horse chia seeds on a daily basis. You can feed them to your horse raw or mixed within your horse’s regular feed. A higher dosage every day will help your horse’s digestive tract and keep up the fight against colic. Try feeding your horse about 50 grams of seeds per day, which works out to about four or five pounds a month. You can double that to 100 grams per day without any problems, but it’s hardly necessary unless your horse is having health issues or digestive woes. For weight issues or serious health problems, you can double the dose of chia seeds to 200 grams per day. Try adding water to plump up the seeds before feeding them to your horse, but of course, you don’t need to. It can help for horses that have weak teeth or prefer ground-up food.
What Are the Benefits of Chia Seeds?
There is a nearly endless list of benefits gained through the addition of chia seeds into a horse’s diet. These really are miracle seeds. The high amount of omega-3 is going to help dramatically boost your horse’s immune system, therefore relieving your horse from some of its more serious allergy problems. Chia seeds may also help broodmares and stallions with their business of breeding. The high levels of magnesium are going to act like a natural stress reliever for your horse, keeping them calm and carefree. Then there is the digestion. Like we already mentioned, chia seeds are going to perform wonders on your horse’s digestive tract. They will help prevent colic and can even see your horse through a nasty ulcer. Chia seeds are also powerful helpers when your horse is suffering from a metabolic disorder.
You would never guess that a seed could help retain electrolytes, but it’s true. Chia seeds are going to keep your horse healthy and hydrated, providing snappy recovery, boosted energy, and enhanced longevity. On the flip side, chia seeds have anti-inflammatory characteristics that will reduce the pain, discomfort, and swelling in your horse’s muscles and joints. Because chia seeds are an ample source of protein, they will help to build muscle as well. You can bank on your horse’s skin, hooves, and coat becoming healthier once chia seeds are introduced into their diet. Horses that are fed chia seeds tend to have stronger hooves, glossier coats, and healthier skin.
Will Chia Seeds Help My Horse Gain Weight?
Chia seeds come with a very high-fat content, which will give your horse the calories it needs to gain weight. So, the answer is yes! Horses can absolutely gain weight from eating chia seeds. They can also lose weight, as odd as that sounds. The ALA content of chia seeds is quite high, and after some time of regular consumption, it is possible that insulin levels will be lowered alongside the source of the horse’s leptin resistance. These two changes equal healthy weight loss and nominal weight levels.
Can Chia Seeds Help Sand Colic in Horses?
A lot of people are claiming chia seeds can be used to directly prevent sand colic in horses. And it’s true! The mucilage content of the chia seeds works to increase the bulk of the hindgut, which in turns makes sure the cecum is always full. This is necessary for preventing an episode of colic, and the chia seeds definitely help, as does ensuring that your horse can forage all through the day and night.
Where to Buy Chia Seeds?
Where supplements like chia seeds may have been scarce ten years ago, it’s hard to find a store that doesn’t sell chia seeds today. It doesn’t even need to be a specialty store. From the U.K. to Canada to the U.S.A., chia seeds are widely available. And while stocking up on chia seeds at your local grocer can be quite expensive for a stable of horses, you can easily order bulk quality chia seeds from online, no matter which country you live in. Other than online dealers, you may want to check the local shop where you buy horse feed. They can almost always give you a fair price for a large order.