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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Raw flaxseeds

Dear Dr. Getty

I recently read a letter in Equus Magazine regarding a horse with chronic 'sweet itch' being fed flax seed and it has helped his coat and mane. I have a 19 year old Arabian mare who, every summer, rubs her mane out until her neck is sore. I went to my local feed store and they had flax seed in stock, so I went and bought some. They are little tiny seeds that look something like seed ticks! - but my problem is that I am having conflicting information as to how to feed flax. A book from Englands states that the seeds must be soaked and then boiled to remove harmful cyanide, but people I work with who have horses said that I should just grind it up and add it to her feed, and that it has to be used immediately it is ground or it loses its properties. I am confused as to what to do. I want to help her keep her mane this summer but don't want to feed her the flax if it will do her harm. Can you help?

Re: Raw flaxseeds

Hi Beverley,

Flaxseeds are perfectly safe eaten raw. They do contain a cyanide-like glycoside, but once eaten, it becomes inactive by stomach acid. Also, the amount in the seed is very tiny; most of it is found on the leaves.

But, you do need to grind them to break open the hard shell, otherwise they will not be digested. You can purchase them whole and use a coffee grinder.

Thanks so much for writing.

All the best,

Dr. Getty