Vegetable Oil as a Source of Calories

Vegetable oil may be fed to horses at the proper rates for the purpose of increasing calorie density for maintaining weight or energy levels. However, since the horse does not have a gall bladder he is unable to digest large amounts of oil in the small intestine. Oil given in excess amounts at one time causes the feed material to rapidly move through the G.I. tract resulting in loose stools and less absorption of the vitamins and minerals in the ceacum and large intestine. Under these conditions many nutrients could be adversely affected.

There should be no problem in using one cup of oil per 1,000 pounds of body weight per day when mixed evenly with the regular diet of the horse. Horses have been given much more vegetable oil than the one cup recommendation with no apparent adverse effects provided the feeding level has been built up over a period of weeks rather than days. The possible explanation of the horse adapting to the excess oil is that the micro organisms in the ceacum and large intestine “learn”, over a period of time, to digest the excess oil passed from the small intestine and convert the oil to a source of energy.

J. Frank Gravlee, DVM, MS, CNS
Founder of Life Data Labs, Inc.
Developer of Farrier’s Formula®