Adding supplementary fat in your horses’ diet is one way to provide concentrated calories as well as some other functional benefits to your horse; but what sources of fat are best?

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are a hot topic in human, pet, and equine nutrition alike, and for good reasons. With such a wide array of information and products out there, it can be confusing and difficult to make decisions, so let’s break down what the omega fatty acids are, and how they can play a role in a healthy balanced diet for our equine counterparts.

What are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)?

All fats are made up of chemically linked chains of fatty acids. PUFAs are a category of unsaturated fats which include:

  • ALA—Alpha linolenic acid (omega-3), which can be further converted by the body into EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), although some species are more efficient at this than others. EPA/DHA can be found themselves in fish/marine co-products like fish oil and fish meal.
  • LA—Linoleic acid (omega-6)

Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids are considered essential—meaning that the body can’t make them itself—so they must be obtained in sufficient amounts from the diet.

What do omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids do?

Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids play important roles in:

  • Immune system regulation;
  • Cell membrane stability;
  • Development and maintenance of the central nervous system; and
  • Oxygen transfer.

Specifically, omega-6 fatty acids are used by the b