The Truth About Feeding Horses Corn Oil
Updated June 15, 2023
Adding fat to your horse’s diet is a great way to add calories for weight gain and essential fatty acids to improve the coat. But using corn oil for horses is not the right way to go about it. In fact, you might do more harm than good. That’s because all fats are not created equal.
Corn oil contains almost all Omega 6 fatty acids and very little of the anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids which have many health benefits. While our bodies need both types of omegas, keeping the proper balance between the two is important.
For horses, experts feel that a ratio somewhere in the range of one part Omega 6 to two parts Omega 3 (a 1:2 ratio) or even a 1:4 ratio is ideal. However, our methods of modern horse keeping have shifted the balance by restricting access to Omega 3-rich fresh grass while providing feed high in Omega 6 fatty acids, such as grain-based concentrates. Corn oil has less than ideal ratios of omegas and therefore it is not the best choice for your horse’s nutrition.
Omega Fatty Acid Ratios in Oils and Feeds for Horses
To help you better understand where these two types of essential fatty acids come from and how the balance easily becomes skewed towards the pro-inflammatory Omega 6 side, here is a chart of the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratios in some common horse feeds:
|Feed||Omega 6:Omega 3|
|Commercial, fortified grain||8:1|
|Whole grains: oats, corn, barley, wheat, rice||24:1|
|Vegetable oils: corn, sunflower||87:1, 199:1|
|Vegetable oils: canola, soybean||3:1, 7:1|
|Flax seed||1:4, good|
|Fish oil (includes the specific Omega 3s EPA & DHA)||Virtually all Omega3|
In a perfect world, we’d all keep our horses turned out on green grass for its benefits to the body as well as the mind! But since that’s not realistic for most people, try to feed as little grain and grain oil as possible to avoid filling your horse with pro-inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids. Instead, use a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement or ration balancer to fill any nutritional gaps from your forage. Then if you want to add fat for extra calories or a shiny coat, use flax seed or fish oil and fill your horse with healthy, anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids.