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Broodmare Nutrition: Advantages of Feeding Omega-3sBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · April 21, 2016

The advantages of feeding omega-3 fatty acids to mares and foals are multifold. Supplements containing eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which are omega-3 fatty acids, may benefit breeding mares in numerous ways:

  • Improve follicular growth;
  • Positively influence hormone concentrations;
  • Enhance embryo quality;
  • Support overall fertility;
  • Combat development of placentitis;
  • Improve endometrial scores;
  • Expedite involution of the nonpregnant horn after foaling; and
  • Boost colostrum quality.

“Plus, don’t forget all the general benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for broodmares with skin conditionsrespiratory issues, and joint disease,” reminded Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D, an equine nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

According to one study* presented at a Australasian Equine Science Symposium, marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids can also decrease the occurrence of postmating-induced endometritis, or PMIE, inflammation of the uterine lining after breeding. PMIE is a normal physiologic response that facilitates clearance of contaminants, excessive semen, and seminal plasma from the uterus. When the inflammatory response becomes excessive, however, it can be detrimental to the mare’s breeding efficiency.

In particular, the researchers found that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids reduced the post-breeding inflammatory response in mares bred with frozen semen.

“The omega-3 fatty acid supplement developed by KER, EO•3, is a potent marine-derived oil rich in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA,” Crandell shared. “Mares owners should consider EO•3 when formulating nutrition plans for problem mares.”

*Brendemuehl, J.P., K. Kopp, and J. Altman. 2014. Influence of dietary algal N-3 fatty acids on breeding induced inflammation and endometrial cytokine expression in mares bred with frozen semen. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. 34(1):123-124.