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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. 

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All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


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

Thank you for your response to my other post. I have a new question. I have a few ottb's that need some extra weight here is my feeding program.
All horses get beet pulp in the PM
The TB's also get Fibergized by Pennfields acc. to their weight and needs.
I also feed Black Oil Sunflower Seeds no more than 2lbs per day broken into 2 feedings.
Some of them are on Ultimate finish by Buckeye for added fat. I have not seen a adramatic diff with this either.
They all have free choice salt and minerals as well as all the hay they can eat.
Horses are on pasture, no real grass yet(winter)
My question is this, I have access to storage for flaxseeds and wonder if they would benefit from this better than the ultimate finish, I can certainly get Flax much cheaper than the UF, and how do I determine who needs what amount of the Flax? I also weigh my feeds and feed stuffs rather than go by scoop. I do not like to feed more than 5lbs of a concentrate to any of my horses per feeding as I have been told by nutritionist that they cannot digest any more than that efficiently at a feeding. Is this true? Thanks for my complex question.

Where are you from? North Carolina

How did you locate this forum? Google search

Re: Flax Seed

Hi Wendy,

I would definitely prefer the flaxseeds (ground into a meal -- do not feed whole) than the Ultimate Finish. You may be overloading your horses on minerals, which can be problematic.

I'm not clear as to what "results" you are looking for -- weight gain? improved coats? joint health? All of the above?

But, think about this for a second... You're giving the Fibergized by Pennfield, which is fortified with minerals. You're feeding the UF, which is fortified with minerals. And, you're offering minerals free choice (which in my opinion, is risky -- horses do not have an inate ability to know what minerals they need, with the exception of sodium, potassium and to a lesser degree, magnesium).

So, the best thing you can do is to feed the flaxseed meal with the Fibergized, and stop the free choice minerals. Offer a plain salt block instead.

About the size of the meal -- I tend to be even more conservative with meal size, limiting it to no more than 3.5 pounds. You are wise to weigh your feed and be concerned about too large a meal. Horse's stomachs are very small in relation to the rest of their gastrointestinal tract. And, too large a meal can lead to feed ending up in the hind gut, potentially leading to colic and even laminitis.

Thanks for writing and I hope this helps simplify things for you, as well as make it safer for your precious equine friends.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Re: Flax Seed

Hi Wendy and Dr. Getty,

I also am considering the use of flax seed for my horses and I was told I could grind it or soak it. Soaking was recommended because I was told some of the benefits are lost when ground and exposed to light/air etc... What is the proper amount to give. Is this based on horses weight or work load? Also I recently purchased a product called UF from KAM Animal Services. Are you familiar with their products? Another person at our barn is using the KLPP product and says it is a wonderful digestive aid.

Where are you from? Florida

How did you locate this forum? google

Re: Flax Seed

Hi Patty,

About the flaxseeds - soaking them is not the best way to go because of two reasons. First, the hull is still on most of the seeds, making it impossible for the horse to get all of the benefits of the meal. And, second, water destroys many vitamins, especially the water soluble ones (B vitamins).

Grinding flaxseeds into a meal is the best way to keep the nutrients and make it more digestible. But, you are right -- once the flaxseeds are ground, the fat soluble vitamins become unstable because they are exposed to oxygen.

So, you can either ground your flaxseeds fresh each day and keep them refrigerated for no more than 2 or 3 days. Or you can get a stabilized flaxseed meal that stays stable at room temperature for up to 6 months. I recommend Nutra Flax -- I feed it to my own horses and have many, many clients who love it.

Feed it according to activity need. A basic amount is 4 ounces (weight, not volume) per day. And, increase it from there as activity levels rise.

About the KAM Animal services products you mentioned... They are probiotics along with various herbs. Herbs contain drugs in diluted forms and I do not recommend giving them on a daily basis unless there is cause. The best way to reduce the effects of an ulcer is to feed hay or other forage (pasture) 24/7 -- horses are trickle feeders and need to be able to chew all day long. And, instead of a probiotic, which only contains a very small amount of the bacteria types that naturally live in the hind gut, I prefer a prebiotic (Ration Plus) which boosts the health of all of the beneficial bacteria. This has a more dramatic effect on digestive health than a probiotic. Probiotics are very useful when a horse is on antibiotics. But, other than those times, a prebiotic is better.

Thanks for asking!

Dr. Getty

Re: Flax Seed


I feed flax seed, just whole, unsoaked, about a cup a day. Is feeding it whole harmful? Thanks for this great site!

Where are you from? Oregon

How did you locate this forum? yahoo search

Re: Flax Seed

Hi Susan,

Feeding flaxseeds whole is not especially harmful if fed in small quantities, but it is a waste since your horse is not able to break open the small seeds to get at the inside pulp. The seeds will simply pass through his digestive system undigested. The bacterial flora in the hind gut may ferment some of the fibrous hull, but your goal in feeding flaxseeds it to provide nutritious omega 3 fatty acids. And, your horse is not getting these the way you're currently feeding.

So, there are a couple of options. The first is to grind them in a coffee grinder and feed 1/4 cup each day. You'll need to grind no more than 3 or 4 days worth and keep the meal refrigerated, since it can go rancid very easily.

But another problem with this method is that the calcium/phosphorus ratio in flaxseeds in inverted, so unless you are feeding a feed that is high in calcium, you may be providing too much phosphorus by feeding them ground.

The second option is to purchase a stabilized flaxseed meal product that does not require refrigeration, and is more economical. Nutra Flax is a pure flaxseed meal product that has added calcium to provide more calcium than phosphorus. And Nutra Flax does not have added grain, like other flaxseed meal products on the market.

So, I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have any more questions.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO