Q: I have noticed that some linseed products have added nutrients and I wondered if I need to worry about diet balance if I feed straight micronized linseed?
A: Linseed, also known as flaxseed, is a useful oil and calorie-rich feed which is conveniently available in a cooked form that is ready to feed. Linseed supplies essential amino acids, soluble fibre called mucilage and an antioxidant phytoestrogen compound called lignan as well as oil and calories. The oil it contains is the richest vegetable source of the health-giving essential omega-3 fatty acids. It is also low in starch and sugar. Like many cereals and seeds, linseed does contain more phosphorus than calcium, at around 2.4 g calcium and 5.2 g phosphorus per kilo.
Whether or not you need to worry about diet balance depends on the rest of the diet and the amount of linseed you feed. If you feed 250 g of micronized linseed daily, the shortage in calcium is 0.7 g, which will be compensated for by the rest of the diet if it is well balanced. Once you feed over 500 g of micronized linseed daily, you should ideally add a source of calcium e.g. limestone flour (calcium carbonate) at a rate of 7 g (supplying 2.8 g calcium) per kilo of linseed fed.
Linseed is relatively low in vitamins, but that is not a problem providing it is added to a well-balanced diet. Micronised linseed is a useful supplement for horse diets whether it is fed straight or as part of a compound supplement or feed.