Last Updated on March 24, 2023
Deciding what to feed your horse can be a minefield, and many equine experts will recommend black oil sunflower seeds for horses. But what are black oil sunflower seeds and are they good for horses? Let’s find out everything you need to know about black oil sunflower seeds for horses!
What Are Black Oil Sunflower Seeds for Horses?
Sunflower seeds are produced by sunflowers, and these giant plants can each produce hundreds or even thousands of nutritious sunflower seeds. Sunflowers have been grown and harvested by humans for hundreds of years, and their seeds are used for a variety of purposes. The inner seed can be eaten, pressed for oil, or used as feed for livestock.
When it comes to sunflower seeds and horses, there are only certain types that should be fed to horses. This is because some types of sunflower seeds are more digestible and nutritious than others. While not harmful to your horse, not all sunflower seeds offer the same nutritional benefit.
The type of sunflower seeds most often eaten by humans is grey-brown with a striped appearance. These are eaten as snacks or used in baking bread and cakes. Whilst these are great for humans to eat, they are low in oil and also difficult for horses to digest.
The type of sunflower seed most often recommended for horses is black oil sunflower seeds. These are the seeds that are normally pressed to extract sunflower oil. The black oil sunflower seed is easier for horses to digest and also contains a higher proportion of oil.
As a comparison, black oil sunflower seeds contain 44% fat, while striped sunflower seeds contain 24% fat. Both types of seeds contain 16-17% protein.
We’re often told that fat is a bad thing and we should avoid it, so why are black oil sunflower seeds for horses supposed to be a good thing? Let’s find out!
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Are Black Oil Sunflower Seeds Good for Horses?
The reason that black oil sunflower seeds are thought to be good for horses is due to the fact they contain the type of fat that is easily digestible and very beneficial to horses. Known as omega-6 fatty acids, they are found in the oil produced by black oil sunflower seeds.
Three benefits of black oil sunflower seeds for horses:
- Promotes a healthy coat
- Helps horses gain weight
- Ideal for horses with Cushing’s disease or laminitis
Omega-6 fatty acids have several benefits when fed to horses. The first one is that they help to promote a shiny and healthy coat, keeping your beautiful horse in top condition.
These beneficial fats are also ideal for horses that need to gain weight. Each pound of sunflower seeds contains a whopping 2500 calories, and these can help horses to gain weight that cannot process energy from carbohydrates and sugars.
This includes horses that cannot have a high-sugar diet, such as those with Cushing’s disease or laminitis. Elderly horses often benefit from a higher fat diet, as they can digest the energy more easily. It may also be beneficial to feed horses a higher-fat diet if they are recovering from illness, but veterinary advice must be sought first.
Does My Horse Need Black Oil Sunflower Seeds?
You may find that black oil sunflower seeds are already included in your horses’ commercial feed mix, as this becoming an increasingly popular ingredient in horse feeds. This may be enough to give your horse all the benefits of black oil sunflower seeds that he needs, but if not you can consider adding more to his diet.
If your horse has a dull coat, then a small amount of black oil sunflower seeds fed daily can soon return shine and luster to the coat. Around 0.5 to 1 cup per day is enough to give your horse a boost of beneficial omega-6 fatty acids.
Black oil sunflower seeds are often fed to horses that need to gain weight. This might be for health reasons, or because they are in hard work. Balancing the nutritional needs of an underweight horse is a complex matter, and the advice of a qualified professional can be very beneficial.
Black oil sunflower seeds should never be fed to horses that are overweight, as they are very high in fat. Obesity is a major cause of many serious health disorders in horses, and if your horse is overweight you should seek the advice of a qualified equine nutritionist.
Can Horses Eat Sunflower Seeds?
Yes, horses can eat sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds can be fed as a treat or added to feed. However, like with any treat, you should not feed an excess of sunflower seeds to horses as they can cause unnecessary weight gain.
Many horse owners will supplement sunflower seeds into their horse’s diets to improve the shine and texture of their coats. Many horses can benefit from the omega-6 fatty acids found in sunflower seeds.
If you want to feed sunflower seeds to your horse, opt for black oil sunflower seeds. While other types of sunflower seeds are generally safe, black oil sunflower seeds will provide the most nutritional value.
In addition to omega-6 fatty acids, black oil sunflower seeds are also a good source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and magnesium. They are one of the most popular types of seeds to add to the diet of horses.
Many people will feed small amounts, around two to four ounces, of black soil sunflower seeds as a treat. Feeding them to your horse regularly can help create a balanced diet.
Black oil sunflower seeds are the same type commonly used in birdseed mixes. You can find black oil sunflower seeds at feed stores, pet stores, online, and some superstores as well.
Can horses eat sunflowers?
Now that you know horses can eat black oil sunflower seeds, what about the rest of the plant? It is generally safe for horses to consume the leaves and hull of a sunflower plant. In fact, some horses may enjoy munching on any sunflowers that grow in their pasture.
Like with any treat, you want to limit the amount of sunflower your horse eats. It is best to just feed a small amount of black oil sunflower seeds as a treat or supplement.
How Should I Incorporate Black Oil Sunflower Seeds Into My Horse’s Diet?
On average, horse owners will feed between 1/4 to one pound of black oil sunflower seeds a day. When starting, it is a good idea, to begin with, a small amount, such as two to four ounces.
From there, you can begin to gradually increase the amount of black oil sunflower seeds you are giving your horse. You can adjust the amount based on your horse’s needs and weight. You don’t want to feed more than two pounds of sunflower seeds to your horses in a day.
Some commercial horse feeds will already have black oil sunflower seeds in the mix. If the feed you give your horse does not, you can add it yourself as a daily supplement. It is often easy to find bulk bags of black oil sunflower seeds for horses.
It is always a good idea to consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your horse’s diet. They can help you determine how much black oil sunflower seeds you should be adding to your horse’s diet based on their needs.
Can Horses Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
Yes, horses can eat pumpkin seeds. In addition to the seeds, they can also eat the flesh and skin of the pumpkin as well.
Pumpkins can make great treats for horses as they contain many nutritional benefits. However, be sure not to feed your horse a pumpkin that is rotting or has any candle wax on it.
When feeding pumpkins to horses, be sure to cut the pieces into small chunks. You can also feed just the seeds on their own as well. Be sure not to give your horse too much pumpkin or pumpkin seeds as they are meant to be just a treat.
Summary – Black Oil Sunflower Seeds for Horses
So, as we have learned, black oil sunflower seeds for horses are the type of sunflower seed normally pressed for oil, and they contain 44% fat. They are often recommended for horses because they contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, which help to promote a healthy coat. Omega-6 fatty acids are also easily digestible and provide a high-energy diet for horses that need to gain weight.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about black oil sunflower seeds for horses! Do you add this nutritious seed to your horse’s diet? Or maybe you’ve got an alternative to black oil sunflower seeds for horses? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
Can Horses Have Black Oil Sunflower Seeds?
Horses can have black oil sunflower seeds, and these high-oil snacks have a range of health benefits. Black oil sunflower seeds should not be given to horses that are overweight or obese.
What Are Black Sunflower Seeds Good For?
Black oil sunflower seeds contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, which bring lustre and shine to the coat. They are also a high energy food that can be fed to horses that struggle to gain weight.
How Much Black Oil Sunflower Seeds For Horses?
To promote a healthy coat in horses, feed 1/2 cup of black sunflower seeds for a smaller horse or pony, and 1 cup to a larger horse. Overweight horses should never be fed black oil sunflower seeds.
Where Can I Buy Black Oil Sunflower Seeds?
Black oil sunflower seeds can be bought from your local feed merchant, or from various online outlets. Check that you are buying the correct type of sunflower seed, as the striped type eaten by humans is not easily digestible or as beneficial to horses.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE