Linseed meal for Horses
Many people have asked is linseed meal for horses? Linseed is a small, brown seed that comes from the flax plant. The seed is a very popular supplement. It’s given to livestock due to its low cost, high nutritional value and numerous health benefits. Linseed is widely available and is very easy to integrate into your horse’s diet.
Rich in Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, Micronized Full Fat Linseed Meal provides significant health benefits! Its high energy, combined with very low starch levels, is especially beneficial to all Equines, including senior horses, draft horses, and those prone to Laminitis. It is also extremely good at giving a shine to your horse’s coat.
So what is the big deal?
You have probably heard of linseed meal for horses as a popular nutritional supplement. But you may have been left wondering what it actually is, what the benefits are and how to feed it. If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place! We are going to take a closer look at linseed (also known as flaxseed) and find out why so many horse owners choose to incorporate this little seed into their horse’s diet.
What are the benefits of feeding linseed?
Linseeds meal for horses
Linseeds offer many health benefits as a result of their nutritional content. Namely, they have a high protein content and are a rich source of fat – particularly omega-3 fatty acids. It is important for your horse to enjoy a rich source of essential fatty acids in their diet. They play a vital role within the body. High-Fat content is one of the key factors that differentiate linseeds from other options. They provide the kind of fats your horse needs in order to be healthy and as these kinds of fats are not produced by your horse’s body they need to be consumed through diet. Linseeds are an excellent, cost-effective way of providing them.
Linseed also helps to improve digestion. It also has a positive effect on the health and appearance of your horse’s skin and coat – even helping to relieve skin conditions as well as symptoms of allergies.
In Veterinary Herbal Medicine, flaxseed is encouraged for use in arthritic horses due to their anti-inflammatory abilities. The introduction of linseed can also help prevent or reduce the accumulation of sand in the gut. This can help to decrease the risk of sand colic from occurring.
As well as the benefits above, linseed is a source of several vitamins including A, D, E and K. It is also low in sugar, low in starch and high in fibre. Integrating flax seeds into your horse’s diet boosts the immune system and helps to enhance the overall health of your horse.
What is linseed Meal?
Linseed meal is the result when linseed oil is extracted from the linseed. The resulting product is linseed meal. It is a suitable protein for adult horses, and it is high in fat. And it’s probably at your boarding facility…many have it.
Linseed, in its raw state, contains the enzyme Linase, which, in moist conditions, can trigger the release of hydrogen cyanide. Micronization not only enhances feed value and palatability but also destroys Linase, so that the resulting product can be fed directly to all stock.
Feeding rate: On average 150gm – 200gm per day depending on the size of the horse. ie. 150gm for a small pony and 200gm for a large thoroughbred.
What does all of this mean?
To summarize, linseed meal is for horses, and providing your horse with linseeds has several health benefits including:
- Boosts the immune system
- Reduces allergies
- Promotes heart health
- Promotes digestive health and function
- Improve hair and hoof strength
- Boosts energy
- Improves respiratory well-being
Should I feed whole or ground linseeds?
Now we know that linseed brings a whole host of benefits to your horse, you are probably keen to start introducing it. One of the first things you need to decide is whether to feed whole linseeds or ground linseeds.
You can safely feed your horse whole flax seeds but in order to get the most nutritional benefits, it is better to grind the linseeds just before feeding. Although this may be more time consuming and will add an extra step to the feeding process, it is important for a number of reasons:
- Feeding whole flax seeds is more wasteful because they are harder to digest
- Grinding linseeds maximizes the digestion of nutrients
- Once the linseeds are ground they should be fed immediately as the fatty acids will rapidly degrade
- Ground linseeds have a very short shelf life and quickly become rancid (exposure to heat, light and moisture can cause the rancidity to take place so it is best to grind enough just for a day or two and store them in a sealed container in a fridge until feeding)
Due to this, to get the most benefit from feeding linseed I always grind them just before feeding as this is when they are most easily digested and at their highest nutritional value.
How much linseed is safe to feed?
The amount of linseed you feed your horse depends on a number of factors, including age and weight. It is also important that you make sure you introduce the linseed gradually over a period of 2 – 3 weeks in order to allow the digestive system a chance to adapt to the changes.
As a general guide, an approx. 500kg adult horse of a healthy weight can be fed ½ – 1 cup of ground linseed per day. This would be about the same for yearlings and growing horses too but foals should be fed less (about a ¼ cup a day). If you are unsure how much your horse needs, speak to a veterinarian and they will be able to offer feeding advice.
If your horse has health conditions that will benefit from ground linseeds you may want to introduce larger amounts (up to a maximum of 4 cups) but be careful not to overfeed. Do not feed more than 2 cups of ground linseed a day over a long period as weight gain may occur. Once you see improvement it is recommended you reduce the amount of linseed down e.g. down to ½ – 1 cup for a 500g healthy adult horse.
Is Linseed meal for horses? I heard something about cyanide poisoning, is this true?
It has been said that linseeds are capable of causing cyanide poisoning. It is true that, like many plant foods, flax seeds contain the cyanogenic glycosides as a defence mechanism. However, cyanide poisoning is extremely unlikely. The presence of cyanogenic glycosides can cause low-level exposure. It would take very high levels of linseed to cause any kind of poisoning. Cyanogenic glycosides are high in the green, immature linseeds. In the mature, brown linseeds used for feeding, there are only trace amounts. This is not something you need to worry about.
Soaking the linseeds in water can increase the cyanide levels. It is safe to boil the linseeds as the hydrogen cyanide will evaporate. However, this is not necessary as whole or ground linseeds can be fed safely as they are.
Commercially purchased ground linseed will be “stabilized,” a heating process that denatures the enzyme, and as such are safe. The stabilized linseed can be refrigerated after opening to extend the shelf life.
Whole flax seeds can be fed without any cyanide production because the acid in the stomach will denature the enzymes. Whole flaxseeds are chewed by the horse fairly effectively and may have some benefit in keeping digestion moving. The pectins in the flax form a glutinous gel.
What if I am leasing my horse?
If you thinking about leasing a horse there a number of questions that you should ask the owner before leasing. One of those questions should definitely be, what, if any, supplements are you feeding your horse and who will pay for those moving forward.
If you are already in a lease asking a horse owner about changing the diet and supplement plan can be a challenge, but definitely worth trying if you feel it will be beneficial to the horse. Gather the research and then let them know what you think.
Feeding Horse Linseeds Summary
In summary, many generations of horse lovers, owners and carers have trusted linseed for horses. There is a very good reason for it. Linseeds, although small and seemingly inconspicuous, come with a host of health benefits. The high levels of protein and omega-3 fats alone make them a worthwhile addition to your horse’s diet. Add in the numerous other benefits they bring to overall health and it’s a no brainer. Just remember, for best results grind the linseeds just before feeding and introduce them gradually to your horse’s diet.
Where can I get Linseed
You should be able to find linseed locally in your market but you can also order it online. Like most things, you will find it cheaper online.
Linseed for horses References
Veterinary Herbal Medicine By Susan G. Wynn, DVM, Barbara Fougere
Myths, Medicine & Misinformation: Advice for Women About Life and Horses …
By Janelle Smith-Haff