Updated September 2022.

Whether it comes from feed or out of a bottle, oil is a valuable addition to many horses’ diets. Here we explain the benefits of feeding oil and share our top tips on how to include it in your horse’s diet safely…

Oil for weight gain

Oil certainly packs a punch when it comes to calories. In fact, 300ml of oil provides approximately same amount of energy (calories) as 1kg of oats. However unlike cereal grains, oil is starch free making it a safe and sympathetic option for horses prone to excitability or clinical conditions such as laminitis, colic, gastric ulcers or tying up.

Did you know?

- All oils contain the same amount of energy (calories) – approximately 3.5MJ DE per 100mls

- It can take up to 12 weeks for horses to adapt to utilising a high oil diet

Oil for coat shine

Whilst there’s no substitute for a balanced diet and plenty of grooming, oil can be the icing on the cake when it comes to a gleaming coat. As little as 30-50mls per day may be all that you need and at this quantity, won’t compromise the good doers waistline!

Maximum feeding rate

As a general rule of thumb horses and ponies on low oil feeds (less than 4%) can be fed up to 100mls oil additional oil per 100kg of bodyweight per day (500mls for a 500kg horse). If your current feed is already high in oil, speak to a nutritionist for advice before adding any oil from a bottle.

Oil and vitamin E

Fats are broken down into fatty acids which are prone to oxidation. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant which helps to prevent cell damage caused by oxidative stress. For this reason, the total diet should provide an additional 100iu of vitamin E for every 100mls of oil fed. Speak to a nutritionist for advice before feeding more than 100mls of oil per day to ensure your horse’s base diet provides sufficient vitamin E.

High oil feed vs. oil from a bottle

Adding oil on top of your horse’s current feed can be an easy and cost effective solution, particularly if feeding small amounts. In larger quantities, oil from a bottle can be a useful way of providing additional calories without increasing meal size. On the flip side, a high oil feed may be more palatable option and also a more convenient way of providing a balanced diet. The difference in cost between adding larger amounts of oil and switching to a higher oil feed may also be negligible.

Tips for feeding oil safely

- Introduce any additional oil gradually – approximately 100mls per week as a guide.

- Make sure it’s fresh. Oil can easily go rancid, particularly in hot weather.

- Speak to a nutritionist for advice before feeding more than 100mls oil per day.

- If you are competing, make sure the oil (and any other feeds/ supplements) you use is BETA NOPS approved.

For more advice on feeding oil contact the SPILLERS Care-Line.