A common phrase is; ‘Horses are herbivores, why should we feed them salmon oil?’. E.F.S. believes this is mainly due to unfamiliarity in the horse farming sector. From a scientific point of view there are no impediments to feeding horses salmon oil. But why is it so important that we dó provide horses with salmon oil?

As they are herbivores, horses only eat plants and plants naturally contain only one omega-3 fatty acid, i.e. alpha-linolenic acid (ALA: C 18:3). In horses only 1% of this acid is converted into DHA. Fish on the other hand extract various omega-3 fatty acids from feed, including some essential fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA: C 20:5) and docosahexaenoic (DHA: C 22:6), which are only produced by algae and plankton through photosynthesis.

Humans obtain these essential fatty acids through, among others, fish consumption and animals obtain them from their natural environment. Domesticated animals, such as horses, do not ingest them if they are not provided.

E.F.S. salmon oil contains the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA and these have several health benefits for both humans and horses. First of all the omega-3:omega-6 ratio in an animal is crucial. An increase in omega-3 levels inhibits inflammatory responses (e.g. summer eczema). Omega-6 on the other hand is known for its inflammation promoting response. These two need to be in balance to create a strong immune system. The ideal ratio is about approximately 1:5. The human ratio is 1:20 and even this already brings health benefits. Omega-3 improves the skin/coat of animals. Wounds heal more quickly and adds shine to their coats.

Authorisation animal by-products

European Regulation No 1069/2009 lays down which animal by-products are not fit for human consumption, but may be used as/in feed. It also lays down that in this regulation the definition of farmed animals applies to horses.

Salmon oil is a waste product from salmon slaughterhouses. Slaughtered salmon are exclusively destined for human consumption (article 10, 1069/2009). This waste stream is separated into a protein stream and a fat stream, the salmon oil. During this production process the oil is heated to 90°C multiple times for a longer period of time (a minimum of 30 mins).


In addition to boosting general health omega-3 is also known for enhancing sperm quality in stallions and enhancing fertility in mares. EPA and DHA affect hormonal processes, leading to a more consistent cycle and a better heat detection. This increases the chance of successful conception and gestation. Feeding salmon oil as a source of omega-3 offers many benefits to foals both during and after gestation. Essential fatty acids end up in the foetus and milk, promoting brain development, increasing bone density and enhancing connective tissue in foals.

Sport horses

High intensity exercise makes horses more prone to injury. Feeding salmon oil improves the elasticity of the cell membrane, resulting in a faster oxygen uptake. Also EPA and DHA affect the endocrine system/hormonal system. They increase insulin sensitivity in the horse, which improves its performance. Improved performance and high intensity exercise can suppress the immune system. Salmon oil is also known for its beneficial effects on the immune system. The above benefits improve the horse’s stamina and reduce its recovery time.

Returning to the question: ‘Why should horses be fed salmon oil?’. Both European legislation and science show there are no impediments to feeding herbivores salmon oil. Leaving the question: why are you not reaping the benefits of salmon oil in horse feed yet?

E.F.S. oils

The E.F.S. product range includes three types of salmon oil. Each oil has its own unique qualities.

  • Norwegian salmon oil
  • Scottish salmon oil
  • EFS Scottish fish oil (min. 60% Scottish salmon oil)

Interested? Please contact the E.F.S. team.