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The Perfect Oil for Horses- Fat Chance!

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

Does the perfect fat source exist? It can be difficult to choose the perfect fat/oil source, because there are seemingly infinite varieties and combinations of oil types (sources), textures, packages, and prices. The first step towards choosing the BEST fat/oil source for you is to ask yourself this question "am I prioritizing omega-3's or calories?" I'll break that down for you and summarize a very large spreadsheet that I created of fat sources by type, omega-3 to 6 ratios, caloric density and cost! We‘ll break down this seemingly endless list into 5 basic options to choose from.

Fat sources make horses shiny and help them maintain good weight.

THE most important thing to understand about all fat sources is that there are only 2 reasons to feed them; to increase the caloric density of the horse's diet and/or to increase the omega-3 fatty acid to omega-6 fatty acid ratio of the horse's diet. That's really the only 2 functions of fat for horses. (If you believe otherwise, you've been swooned by marketing.) Horse owners have a REALLY hard time deciding on the best fat source, because horse owners hate to prioritize needs and wants. We want it ALL! Specifically, when it comes to choosing a fat source, it's really hard to PRIORITIZE these three things...

1. Calories

2. Omega 3 to Omega 6 Ratios



You'd prefer ALL 3 options, right!?! BUTTTT....that's not possible. The unfortunate fact is that all three of these needs/wants are at odds with each other! You simply can not have all three, and that is hard for some to swallow. When prioritized wisely, however, you can see great improvements in your nutrition goals! How you rank calories, omega-3's and cost from #1 to #3 will determine the appropriate route to go! Then, on top of that first crucial mental exercise, you need to understand your preferences for...

  1. texture which determines ease of use and sometimes palatability when you have a picky eater: liquid oil versus solid (i.e. pelleted, extruded, meal)

  2. cost: low, moderate or high cost per unit of value

  3. availability: are you ok ordering it online or do you prefer to find it at your local store

There's no right or wrong answer here, just what's right for you! Once you decide, the question of WHAT oil to feed becomes less complex. Let's get started...

*If you are unfamiliar with fatty acids and what they might do for you and your horse, you might want to start HERE with the National Institute of Health "Omega 3 Fatty Acids" Fact Sheet.

So, if you have 64+ combinations of fat source choices, how do you begin to know which product to buy? OCEN can help you! Schedule a FREE 15 Minute Discovery Call NOW!


Option #1: Money is no issue, and I want a fat source for the highest omega-3 content possible!

Priority List Looks Like This

  1. Omega-3 Source

  2. Weight Gain (For those of you with fat horses, please note that I'm still putting this is here, because fat sources=calories! You can NOT take the calories out of the oil/fat source, so please feed with caution.)

  3. Money

Choose supplements with fish, flaxseed, camelina, or ahiflower oil. Plant based products in this category are high in ALA, but not DHA/EPA. This grouping includes products such as HorseGuard Flaxen Flow ($37/gallon), Smart Earth Camelina Oil ($75/gallon), and Purina Omega Match Ahiflower Oil ($145/gallon). There is also a SPECIALIZED type of very high omega-3 fat sources (DHA/EPA) from marine based products. These DHA/EPA fatty acid sources come from fish and algae. In the past, the poor palatability have kept these products off the shelf, but they are gaining popularity as companies find ways around the palatability issue. Options include Kentucky Equine Research EO-3 ($119/gallon; click here for a review by OCEN), Kentucky Performance Products Contribute ($77/gallon), Stride Animal Health Fish Oil Factor ($9/pound; click here for a review by OCEN), or Iceland Pure Equine Fish Oil ($185/gallon).

Option #2: Money is somewhat an issue, and I am prioritizing a fat source for weight gain.

Priority List Looks Like This

  1. Weight Gain

  2. Money

  3. Omega-3 Source

Skies the limit for this crowd, mostly because all oils are created equal when it comes to calories! The first choice for many is to add 1-4 cups per day of a liquid oil on top of the feed. This can get very messy unless you're a clean freak, but it's an easy way to add loads of calories in a safe way. You could also add something more convenient and palatable like Purina Amplify (30% fat), Buckeye Ultimate Finish 40 (40% fat), or Manna Pro Cool Calories (99% fat; hydrolyzed fat). These products remove the "messy". There are also several high fat products that have protein sources in them such as Renew Gold (16% protein), dac Bloom (27% protein) or Hygain ShowTorque (20% protein). I'm not a huge fan of protein as a major energy source for horses, but they might have their place in some situations.

Option #3: Money is somewhat an issue, and I really want to add an oil for the omega-3's.

Priority List Looks Like This

  1. Omega-3 source

  2. Money

  3. Weight Gain

In this scenario, flaxseed oil is your friend. One of my favorite fat sources to balance cost and potency is the HorseGuard Flaxen Flow (click here for a review by OCEN), but I will also consider UltraCruz Equine Pure Flax Seed Oil or Animed Flax Seed Oil.

I am also very much in love with the new Purina Omega Match ration balancer when you want to package a lot of nutrition into one! It's relatively low in calories (so great for easy keepers), high vitamin/mineral density, soy free, and loads of omega-3 from ahiflower oil. When you can combine good quality vitamins, minerals, protein, and an omega-3 source...oh...and ulcer prevention (Outlast) in one for under $3 per day, you win my heart over and over again!

If you'd like to balance cost even more than consider grinding your own flaxseed daily or purchasing a flaxseed oil blended with soy, canola, and rice bran oils such as Triple Crown Essential Omega Blend ($35/gallon; rice bran, flax, soy oils) or Animed Flax Seed Oil Blend ($34/gallon; soy and flax).

Option #4: Money is definitely a priority, and I really just need oil for weight gain!

Priority List Looks Like This

  1. Money

  2. Weight Gain

  3. Omega-3 source

Have no fear! Weight gain doesn't have to be expensive! Choose canola oil from Costco for $11/gallon! Or purchase pelleted rice bran from the feed store such as Equis Rice Bran or Lakeland Rice Bran. Know that you'll pay a considerable amount more for stabilized, which I don't think is absolutely necessary. The only reason to buy stabilized is increased shelf life in hot climates. Stabilization DOES NOT increase digestibility or caloric density. I repeat, stabilization does NOT increase digestibility.

If you want to spend a little more than rock bottom, you can consider Ukele CocoSoya Oil, Healthy Coat Oil, Manna Pro Max-E-Glow, or Nutrena Empower Boost. Dac Oil, with blends of canola, flax, wheat germ and fish oils, would be in this group too. *Note that these are NOT sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and that all 100% liquid oil sources are equal in calories.

Finally, you could also consider consolidating your vitamin, mineral, protein and fat sources with an appropriate performance feed with 6% or greater fat guarantee. To be honest, this is often my preference seeing as it ALWAYS pencil's out to be the most overall cost effective diet plan.

Option #5: Money is definitely a priority, and I want a high Omega-3 source!

Priority List Looks Like This

  1. Money

  2. Omega-3 Source

  3. Weight Gain

Sorry folks, this option does not exist! Supplements that will affect your horse's omega-3 content in the diet are never cheap. Sadly, your only alternative is to find a high quality grass pasture in the spring through fall months. Green grass is an incredibly rich source of omega-3's for horses and often pasture board is cheap(er) than the alternative!


I have attempted to summarize for you 17 years in the business of making good horse feed recommendations plus many hours producing a complex spreadsheet of products with their ingredients, feeding rates, omega-3:omega-6 ratios, cost, and caloric densities. OCEN clients are privy to this spreadsheet, but sadly it's too complex to share here. I hope that this article has helped you focus your nutrition goals by narrowing in on 5 major fat source options. Each of these five options are based on how you prioritize these three things; calories, omega-3's and cost.

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1 Comment

Wow, this was wildly helpful! Thank you for organizing the options this way!! 😍

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