What type of oil is best for horse’s with ulcers?

tracey hammond

by Tracey Hammond

One of the key pieces of advice given to owners of horses with ulcers is to reduce the amount of starch within the ration. The most definitive benefit of feeding oil is that because it is so energy dense it can reduce the reliance on starchy feeds in the ration for horses with high energy requirements. From the point of view of supplying energy in place of starch this can be achieved with any type of vegetable oil and up to a maximum of 100ml per 100kg of the horse’s bodyweight can be fed daily.

Benefits of oil for horses with gastric ulcers

Oil or high fat feeds are also thought to be beneficial to horses with gastric ulcers as prostaglandins which inhibit acid secretion are derived from fatty acids. Oil may also bind free fatty acids within gastric fluid potentially creating a less acidic environment. One study found supplementing 45ml corn oil significantly lowered gastric acid output and increased prostaglandin concentration leading the authors to conclude that corn oil may theoretically be a way to increase the protective properties of the glandular mucosa (click here to read more). In another study though, where corn oil or rice bran oil were supplemented at higher levels, no improvement was found in the number and severity of ulcers in the non-glandular mucosa (click here to read more).

Linseed oil and horses with gastric ulcers

Another frequently mentioned potential benefit of the high oil feed material linseed, is that it is very mucilaginous and could potentially form a protective layer in the stomach. A performance horse study looked at the effect of a linseed based feed additive on gastric ulcers in horses and found that it did not decrease the number or severity of gastric lesions compared to the control group (click here to read more). Horses were fed an equivalent of 65g per kg of bodyweight of linseed per day which equates to 325g for a 500kg horse. 

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