KrKHorseSense Blog - Full Article
March 4, 2018 by Dr. Kellon
Even fans of feeding flax may not realize all its benefits. It’s a very healthful supplemental feed item for horses of all ages, classes and uses.
People usually feed flax for its high omega-3 fatty acid content. There are two classes of fatty acids (the building blocks of fats) that must be in the diet, omega-3 and omega-6. Both are essential for peak immune function and the omega-3s contribute to normal homeostatic balancing of inflammatory reactions. Whole flax seeds are 30+% fat with the same high omega-3 profile as fresh grass. There are visible benefits to coat, skin and hooves. Omega-3s also support vision, the nervous system, development of young animals and keep all the cells’ membranes pliable.
At about 25% protein, flax seeds are also an excellent protein supplement with some key specific benefits. They are a good source of the most commonly deficient amino acid, lysine, and contain even higher levels of leucine which is the most common amino acid in skeletal muscle. It’s also a very good source of methionine, the sulfur containing amino acid that is becoming increasingly scarce. In fact, it is close to meeting the specifications for equine “ideal protein” as set forth by Bryden.
On the mineral end, flax seeds have 2 to 4 times more magnesium than hays. The calcium:phosphorus ratio is reversed at just a little under 1:2 but this complements alfalfa and most grass hays as well. Unlike hays, on average flax seed is low in manganese but has adequate zinc and copper in correct ratios to each other...
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