Should Horses and Ponies Be Fed Cod Liver Oil?
Why The Question?
Horses are herbivores meaning they do not naturally eat any animal or fish, cod liver oil is made from the liver of cod fish, in the old days a barrel would be filled up with cod livers and seawater and then left to rot for up to a year before being used. These days it is made from steam cooking cod livers. The livers are then pressed and the oil from the pressing is gathered
Why Feed Cod Liver Oil To a Horse?
Cod liver oil has high levels of essential fatty acids and it is believed this can improve the health of a horse suffering from a vitamin A or D deficiency, lack of sunlight being a known cause of this
Benefits are said to include
1) Improved joints leading to greater mobility
2) Glossier coat
3) Reduced risk of laminitis
4) Better temperament
5) Stronger teeth, hooves and bones
6) An overall improvement in general health
Why NOT feed Cod Liver Oil To a Horse?
1) The ethical question of them being herbivores and going against nature
2) Insufficient evidence that supports the claimed benefits
3) There are alternatives that are not animal by products – some examples include linseed oil (fatal if not used correctly) and sunflower oil
4) Claims that it may contain high levels of toxins, an example being mercury
5) Previous known link that animal by products in animal food have lead to BSE
6) Good quality hay and grass should be providing the essential fatty acids that horses need
Join the debate – should you feed your horse or pony cod liver oil? Some vets claim it’s wholly beneficial while some categorically state that herbivores should not consume animal by products, we would always advise consulting your own vet if you are unsure
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