Black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS) are a popular addition to the horse’s diet. They are highly nutritious, offering protein, vitamins, and minerals and are especially high in magnesium (100 mg per ounce). BOSS are high in fat, as well, but the type of fat is mainly in the form of omega 6s, with very little omega 3 content. Since omega 6s are inflammatory, balancing with a source of omega 3s is important to consider, especially for the horse who is experiencing inflammation due to injury, aging, or obesity.
One cup of BOSS provides approximately 10,000 mg of omega 6s and only 34 mg of omega 3s. To bring this in line with the naturally occurring ratio of 4:1 omega 3s to omega 6s found in fresh grasses, you would need to feed approximately 2 cups of ground flaxseeds or chia seeds.
Be certain to feed only the black seeds, typically purchased for wild birds; their shells are soft and easy to digest. Avoid the striped shelled seeds; their outer shell contains a large amount of indigestible fiber that cannot be managed by the microbial population in your horse’s digestive tract.
Related to this, a new supplement category is available at Dr. Getty's Free Shipping Supplement Store that addresses nutritional approaches toward reducing inflammation. Inflammation is the culprit of too much body fat, potentially leading to impaired signaling of leptin to let the horse's body know he has had enough to eat. Reducing inflammation will help bring your horse's body back to functioning normally.
BUYING TIPS by Kim Henneman
Read bags and labels carefully. Many large stores such as Walmart, K-mart and national chain feed stores sell seeds that have had the seed exteriors sprayed with a vitamin mixture that has no proven benefit for birds nor safety testing in geriatric horses. Make sure that the seeds that you are buying are just the seeds with no adulteration. If you have an old horse with poor chewing ability, you can buy the hearts and grind them before feeding.
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Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an internationally respected, independent equine nutritionist who believes that optimizing horse health comes from understanding how the horse’s physiology and instincts determine the correct feeding and nutrition practices. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.
Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at Dr. Getty’s website, www.gettyequinenutrition.com, as well as from Amazon (www.Amazon.com) and other online book retailers. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are also available at her website (where Dr. Getty offers special package pricing) and from Amazon (in print and Kindle versions) and from other online retailers. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for horse-loving friends.