Coconuts and horses.. not something that you often associate with horses or think of feeding your horse, but coconut oil is a staple food used in a growing number of health conscious kitchens around the world. Oil is extracted from the white flesh of the coconut, leaving a residue called coconut meal or copra meal.
Most modern feeding practices are compromising the wellness of our horses. A lot of horses are being underworked and overfed with too rich pasture and grain concentrates. As a result, they sooner or later often suffer from behavioural and metabolic disorders. Research suggests that many of these disorders are caused by the over feeding of sugars and starch.
Coconut meal is unique as it is natural. It is GM free, low NSC feed. Premium quality coconut meal can be a valuable feed for the wellness of most horses. It is fed instead of grain to provide a “cool” trainable energy for your horse. It can recover and maintain top line and help maintain a shiny coat, main and tail. Since it is low in NSC is it used to avoid metabolic disorders associated with feeding high levels of sugar and starch. It can be fed either wet or dry which is appealing to owners who are concerned about their horse’s water intake in cold winter months as you can mix the meal with warm water to make a warm mash.
The amount a horse needs can vary between 0.5kg to 1kg of dry coconut meal depending on workload. Minerals and vitamins will be required and a horse should be getting at least 3kg of medium quality roughage morning and night.
Benefits of feedings coconut meal are sustained energy, digestive support, low sugar/starch and fat from medium chain triglycerides.
Medium chain triglycerides more rapidly absorbed and metabolized verses the longer chain triglycerides that are found in other non- animal saturated fats, such as vegetable oil. Coconut is unique in that rather being stored for fat like the longer chains, the body converts the medium chain triglycerides found in coconut meal into fuel for muscles.
Saturated fat from coconut meal is digested directly into the blood providing energy. This is superior to other fat sources which are converted to fat instead of energy. Being absorbed into the blood is beneficial because this gives a much quicker energy response. Coconut oil is so energy is so dense, it yields about two times more energy than starch or protein.
Another unique aspect of medium chain triglycerides is their significant, clinically proven antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory properties.
It also contains less than 2% starch so it is less likely to cause starch-related issues such as tying up and laminitis.
Overall it is a really good healthy feed option for most horses.