Chia Seeds for Horses - Top 10 Benefits
1. Omega 3s - Chia seeds have very high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, even more than flax and fish oils. They also have an ideal 3:1 ratio of Omega-3s to Omega-6s.
2. Hydration - Since they retain 10 times their weight in water, adding soaked seeds to your horse's diet can keep them hydrated longer and help retain electrolytes. A great solution for travelling, or in extreme weather conditions when your horse may not be drinking enough.
3. East to Digest - With the seeds being more than 25% soluble fiber (more than flax or oats) it slows down the digestive process and helps reduce spikes in blood sugar.
4. Calming - Many calming supplements contain magnesium, which chia seeds happen to very high in (approx. 220 mg per 2 oz.). It's also a great source of slow release energy, without the "hot" effect that's seen with oats and other high sugar feeds.
5. Healthy Skin/Coat/Hooves - Thanks to the high levels of Omega-3s and essential amino acids, you'll be sure to notice a new shine on your horse's coat and improved hoof growth.
6. Allergy Relief - Chia seeds have been used to relieve the symptoms of skin allergies and are believed to help strengthen the immune system.
7. Reduce Inflammation - With natural anti-inflammatory proprieties, and without the side effects associated with bute and other drugs, Chia seeds are a good alternative for recovery or maintenance. As an added bonus, it's a permitted supplement for use in performance horses by the USEF.
8. Build Muscles - Along with regular exercise, the 18% protein in chia seeds can be a big help in building your horse's muscles and topline.
9. Sand Colic Prevention - If you live in a sandy area, you already know the importance of keeping the digestive track clear. The gel-like substance created when chia seeds are mixed with saliva (or any liquid) help to pass food, sand, and other debris through the guts.
10. Long Shelf Life - Chia seeds can withstand extreme temperatures and have shelf life of 2-5 years, This makes it convenient and easy to store, unlike many oils and supplements (with the exception of coconut oil of course!).
How to feed it:
Most sources recommend about 2 oz (1/3 cup) daily for regular maintenance, and up to 4 oz (2/3 cup) during travel, a heavy training schedule or to help treat specific conditions. Don't expect to see results right away, it may take several weeks. Chia seeds can be fed straight to your horse, raw and unprocessed, or mixed with their regular feed (or soaked if you prefer).
Where to buy it:
You can find chia seeds at most grocery and health foods stores, but buying it there in large (horse) sized amounts can be quite expensive. Luckily there are some good bulk buying options online:
Amazon (Food to Live) - Approx. $2.90/lb (including shipping) - 50 lb bag
Equine Chia - Approx. $3.36/lb (free US shipping) - 55 lb bag
US Chia - Approx. $5.00/lb (free US shipping) - 50 lb bag
Prices as of Jan 2015, they may change at any time.
Have you tried chia seeds for horses? Share your experience with our readers!