Feeding Your Horse Sunflower Seeds

It’s summer here in Virginia and I’m starting to see sun flowers everywhere!

DCP_2110b

It got me thinking about a post I read on a nutrition site about feeding Black Oil Sunflower seeds (BOSS) to a horse.  I’m all about feeding a more natural, plant based diet to my horses so this sounds like a good feed ingredient to add.

From what I read there are a bunch of different types of sunflower seeds but with horses you should only feed the Black Oil Sunflower seeds. The striped seeds have thicker, tougher hulls that cannot be broken down by your horse’s digestive system so you should never feed them to your horse.

Black Oil Sunflower seeds are valued for their oil content, which accounts for about 50% of the seed dry weight.  Sunflower protein is less rich in the amino acid lysine than soybean protein but it does have a relatively high amount of the other two important amino acids cystine and methionine.

Sunflower seed

I would say the number one reason to feed BOSS is better coat condition.   The coat improves because of the high oil (fat) content.  It could also be because of the high level of omega-6 fatty acids in BOSS.

The second reason for feeding BOSS is price.  Pound for pound BOSS is usually less expensive than other supplements used for coat condition.

Black Oil Sunflower Seeds have also been known to be beneficial for weight gain. With a whopping 2500 calories per pound they can be fed to add some calories to your horse’s diet and assist with weight gain. They are preferred by many owners over oil due to the fact that they provide fat along with other nutrients.

However, if weight gain is not a goal in feeding BOSS, you can feed in smaller amounts and they will give your horse a nice shiny coat without the weight gain.

You can feed BOSS  as whole seeds right along with your horse’s other feeds. Horses love the seeds but for some picky eaters you may have to start with very small amounts and gradually increase to the amount you want to feed.

Beautiful horse in sunflowers

Usually, they are fed at a rate of 0.5-1.0 cup per day for shine without the weight gain. For weight gain, you usually want to feed at least 2 cups per day, if not more. Of course, you may have to adjust these amounts for individual horses. 

NOTE: Sunflower seeds should never be fed at a rate higher than 2 pounds per day because they are fairly high in the Omega 6 fatty acids, which is an EFA that you want in moderation. Plus, they are a bit higher in phosphorous than in calcium, so more than 2 lbs will mean you will have to adjust this ratio in your feeding regimen and always start slow with any feed change.

Another Side Note: HYPP positive horses, or those that might be, should not have BOSS added to their daily ration.  These horses need to have very controlled amounts of potassium in their diets (less than 100 grams per day). In a horse’s diet it is already difficult to control for potassium intake so with 900 mg of potassium per cup, BOSS is something that should not be added to the HYPP horse’s diet.

So if you are looking for a natural supplement to add bloom to your horse, look at Black Oil Sunflower Seeds!

Thanks for stopping by,

Laura

The Horse Hippie

Horse Hippie CHristmas 2014

The Horse Hippie

 

 

 

 

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