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Benefits of Fat in Your Horse’s Diet: Cool Calories ® 100

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Providing sufficient calories for your horse can be a challenge.  However, improving your horse’s dietary management can be as simple as adding the right fat supplement. 

1. MORE FAT LESS STARCH

Improving your horse’s condition may be more complex than just increasing their grain ration.  Although horse owners have fed sweet feed and oats for many years, researchers are now beginning to understand the impacts of those diets.  Typical grain-based rations are very high in starch content and may not provide the best source of cool energy.  The ingredients used in a horse’s diet are critical to overall performance and must be nutrient dense in order to maximize efficiency.  Fat provides 2.25 the amount of calories when compared to starch and can be increased in the horse’s diet without the worrisome pH decline that may accompany an increased feeding rate of starchy grain-based diets.  Although good quality forage should be at the heart of every equine nutrition program, a high quality fat supplement can help to round out the need for additional calories and help you to achieve the weight gain you are looking for without the negative effects of high starch diets.  Cool Calories 100® is an excellent fat supplement designed to be top-dressed daily. 

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2. OTHER HORSES NEEDING MORE FAT

Hard-keepers, senior horses, lactating mares and horses in heavy work programs may all benefit from additional fat supplementation in the diet.  Fat supplementation provides calories via essential fatty acid and helps your horse develop that healthy gloss that every horse owner wants on their horse’s coat.  Mare’s milk has been shown to be as high as 15% in total fat content.  Make sure that you are providing adequate supplementation for your nursing mares. 

Fat supplementation may be especially important for horses susceptible to Monday Morning disease, typing up, or polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM).  Horses with these disorders are often collectively referred to as having exertional rhabdomyolysis (despite the fact that sometimes exertion is not involved).  These horses may frequently display dark brown urine (because of the muscle breakdown that is taking place), muscle tremors, ating, muscle stiffness and swelling.  Although many breeds have been associated with these types of conditions, it’s been found to occur in 80% of all draft horses.  Dietary management for these horses must include a high-fiber and low-starch approach with supplemental fat. 

Laminitic horses have also been demonstrated to benefit from starch reduction in their diet (especially if their laminitis is linked to insulin-resistance).  However, because these horses frequently suffer from weight loss (associated with the pain of their laminitis and the resulting loss of appetite) additional dietary calories are often needed.  Because of their inability to properly exercise, laminitic horses must be managed very carefully.  If your horse’s laminitis was triggered by a dietary change such as higher fructan levels in the lush green spring grass, it may be important to utilize grazing muzzles, dry lots or other pasture access limiting techniques to minimize the possibility of a repeat episode.  A high quality fiber diet supplemented with Cool Calories 100® can provide the right balance of calorie dense nutrition without the blood sugar spike associated with high starch diets. 

3. ALL FAT IS NOT CREATED EQUAL

Fat supplements can differ in quality much the same as protein supplements can be different in quality.  Although some may suggest liquid vegetable oil as a fat supplement, this may not be the best way to increase the fat in your horse’s diet.  Liquid oil supplementation can be less expensive, but it can also be messy and may not be as palatable as a dried concentrated fat source.  Of greater concern is the rancidity that may occur in liquid oil.  Cool Calories 100® is an extruded 99% fat equine supplement that your horse will love with no fear of the rancidity that may be problematic with liquid oils.   

REMEMBER THE BASICS               

Horses diagnosed with the dietary conditions described above require high-fiber, low-starch and high-fat diets in order to minimize the blood sugar spike that occurs following consumption of a high-starch meal. 

Changes to your horse’s diet cannot take place overnight.  Dietary changes should be introduced gradually and over time (7-14 days) so as to allow the microbes living in the gastrointestinal tract time to adjust and maintain the correct balance.  Sudden changes or rapid shifts in diet (including new hay or a new pasture) can result in population changes that may contribute to colic or laminitic episodes. 

As always, every horse needs continual access to fresh clean water and a plain white salt block.  If they are stalled make sure their bucket never gets dry. 

 

To download a $3 Coupon on Cool Calories 100® , Click Here!

Dr. Erin Venable

Dr. Erin Venable

Dr. Erin Venable is an Assistant professor at Southern Illinois University with more than 15 years of experience working with equines. She has worked with many species including cattle, horses, and canines. She specializes in both horses and working canines and hopes to develop better diagnostic tools for identifying causes of microbial dysbiosis. Recently she has conducted several research trials utilizing cecally-cannulated horses in order to better understand the shifts that occur within the gastrointestinal tract. She continues to focus her research on the microbial stability of horses and canines.

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