Also known as linseed, flaxseed is produced from the flax plant and can be used to provide fat, protein, and fibre in the equine diet.

Flax products are cost-effective, calorie-dense and commonly fed to horses for weight gain or to support the energy requirements of high-performance exercise.

Flax seeds and flax oil are also sources of the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). [1][2] This essential fatty acid can be used to balance omega-6 intake and helps maintain skin and coat quality.

While consuming omega-3s is generally associated with health benefits, not all omega-3 fatty acids have the same effects on the horse’s body. Flax oil does not contain DHA or EPA, the two fatty acids associated with healthy inflammatory regulation and improved joint health.

The fatty acids in flax are vulnerable to rancidity when exposed to light, air, and water. Horses should be fed freshly ground flax or stabilized flax products to minimize health risks.

Flax for Horses

Flaxseed is produced by Linum usitatissimum, a flowering plant belonging to the Linaceae family. An ancient crop, flax has been cultivated for thousands of years for its fibre and oil content.

Flax is an annual plant that grows best in northern, cool climates. Canada is the largest producer of flax in the world. [2]

Multiple products are made from this plant including whole and ground flax seeds, flaxseed oil, and flaxseed meal – a by-product of flaxseed after the oil has been extracted.

Flax plants produce golden and brown-coloured flax seeds, both of which have a similar nutrient profile. Brown flax is the most common type of flax fed to horses.

Ground flax is more easily digested than whole flax because the hard outer shell is broken during grinding.

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Nutritional Profile of Flax

Flaxseeds are nutrient-dense and contain approximately 40% fat, 30% fibre, and 30% protein. [2] They also contain B-complex vitamins, vitamins A and E, and minerals including magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and iron.