What are the benefits of feeding garlic to horses?
For centuries garlic has been known as one of the most effective natural healing substances in the world, and not just for people - Garlic has amazing healing benefits for horses too. In this blog, you will learn why supplementing your horse with garlic can improve their well-being and discover the many practical and health-enhancing benefits this bulbous plant has to offer.
Garlic as an effective Fly Control for horses
Garlic is extremely effective at repelling unwanted insects which is why you will often see it included in field licks such as the Farm & Stable Garlic Flexilik – a paddock mineral & vitamin lick for horses.
How does garlic repel flies? When consumed by horses, the garlic changes the smell of their sweat, and the garlicy odour repels pests such as flies, ticks, midges and mosquitoes. Don’t worry, your horse won’t suddenly start smelling like garlic to humans – but it will do to flies and other biting insects.
This way of creating a natural fly repellent can be a far more favourable method for both your horse and the planet. This is because using garlic as a fly repellent eliminates the need for an aerosol spray which creates greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming. There is also no risk of the chemicals washing into the water which can potentially affect ecosystems – there are often nasty chemicals in fly repellents that can contaminate water systems, so it is a great option to use a natural repellent such as garlic. Plus, the use of a natural ‘remedy’ such as garlic granules added to feed or the use of a mineral lick saves your horse from being exposed to sprays that may irritate their skin or drip into their eyes. As a general rule, sprays should never be applied above the eyes because when the horse sweats, the residual spray/solution may run down their face and irritate their eyes.
Building in a form of garlic into your horse's diet for the warmer months of the year will definitely ease the burden of flies for your horses. An additional tip is that our flexiliks are also suitable for use around the yard and stable areas – once again, just the smell of the garlic will help to keep areas free of flies - a very cost-effective approach to fly control whilst also boosting minerals, vitamins and trace elements too.
Of course, the use of garlic will help towards acting as a fly repellent, but as the weather starts to warm up and the days get longer, make sure you are prepared in more ways than one for the start of the fly season – make sure you regularly poo pick fields and yard and keep hygiene to the forefront of your mind. Fly control is most effective when you reduce how attractive your yard and horses are to flies. Make sure you use garlic early and of course, there are other natural repellents like Bremsen long-acting fly repellent available which you should always have to hand - and where you do see an area on your yard that is particularly prone to flies, the use of Red Top Fly Traps is another incredibly effective natural way to ‘remove’ thousands of flies during the season. Place one of these in a tree near your manure pile and watch the flies disappear!
What are the nutritional benefits of feeding Garlic to a horse?
Not only can garlic help to protect your horse from biting insects, but when consumed garlic has numerous health benefits due to its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Garlic is rich in Selenium and Sulphur. Selenium is a trace element and an essential nutrient in a horse's metabolism. There are areas in the UK where the ground is deficient in selenium, therefore supplementing garlic into your horse’s feed can be a great way to increase the selenium content in their diet.
Levels of selenium in equine forage such as grass, hay, and grains including oats and barley will vary depending on the amount of selenium in the soil on which they were grown.
Selenium is important for horses because it is involved in the production of antibodies which are vital for a strong immune system. What is more, Selenium is also involved in the production of thyroid hormones that can affect equine growth rates.
The sulphur in garlic is believed to contain many germ-killing compounds and is known for having blood cleansing properties that are useful in treating and preventing many equine diseases such as respiratory diseases. Non-infectious respiratory diseases are quite common amongst younger and otherwise healthy horses and are frequently caused by hypersensitivities to allergens in a stable environment. However, older horses may be more susceptible to respiratory diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), which can also be known as heaves. Look out for symptoms such as coughing, nasal discharge, and reluctance to work. Veterinarian advice should always be sought if you suspect your horse may have a respiratory disease.
Garlic contains substances that help to clear mucus in the airways so is often used to give relief from the symptoms of coughs. Providing your horse does not have a serious disease such as COPD, supplementing with garlic may help improve your horse’s respiratory system, particularly if they are suffering from dust-related allergies, which may ultimately contribute to improved performance under the saddle.
What is more, due to its cleansing ability, together with its ability to reduce inflammation, garlic has also been known to benefit the urinary tract too.
How do I feed Garlic to my horse and how much Garlic is the right amount?
The recommended serving of garlic to feed a horse is about ½ an ounce to 2 ounces per day- depending on the size of the horse or pony. However, this may also change depending on what source of garlic you are using too.
You should not overfeed garlic as it contains an element called N-propyl disulphide that can be toxic. In high doses, this element can negatively affect an enzyme within a horse's red blood cells which reduces the blood cells’ ability to defend against damage caused by oxidation.
While garlic is natural, the theory that ‘I can feed it in unlimited quantities to my horse’ is very much false. Natural products can still be harmful to horses - just think of the number of plants that are toxic to horses. Things like bulbs or roots of plants can often be toxic, so with Garlic being a bulb of sorts, care always needs to be taken before giving it to your horse.
However, do not fear - this potential toxicity is rarely ever a risk. Commercially prepared equine garlic supplements are not considered dangerous because the toxic elements are often destroyed during the manufacturing process when heated or dried. Nevertheless, you should stick to the recommended feeding rates just to be cautious. The feeding rate will always be available on your garlic product.
There is a reason so many horse-owners love supplementing their horses with garlic, but it’s all about getting the right amount and the right sort of product for each horse.
Firstly, before purchasing a garlic supplement consider why you want to give your horse garlic as different garlic supplements will have subtly different added benefits. Then consider how you want to feed garlic to your horse as there may be a certain supplement that is more convenient to your routine. Finally, you must also consider if there are any reasons specific to your horse that may mean that garlic is not the right product for your horse. Please read on for more about this final point.
Garlic may not be suitable for all horses
Please note- Garlic must not be given to horses with blood clotting disorders or anaemia. If your horse is on any medical treatments, you should also beware. Always check with your vet if you have any concerns about the interactions or contraindications of using garlic with your horse.
Can I give cloves of fresh garlic to my horse?
In theory, yes you can feed fresh garlic, but it is far from practical, and you may not gain the full benefit due to preparation. It is therefore considered more advisable to use properly sourced, equine specific products to ensure that they are prepared, selected and safe for use. As with all supplements, always read the packaging and instructions fully before using them for the first time.
At Farm & Stable, we sell garlic for equine use in many forms including powder, dried granules and field licks. With such a range available it is easy to find an option that works for you. Garlic Powder and Garlic Granules can easily be added to the daily feed ration for your horse, whilst mineral licks like the Garlic Flexilik are easy to leave in the turnout paddock and ensure that your horse also benefits from the minerals, vitamins and trace elements it contains. If you would rather supplement garlic in a liquid form, then we also offer TRM’s (Thoroughbred Remedies Manufacturing) bestselling Garlic, Honey Glucose. This product combines these 3 natural nutrients in a highly palatable supplement – Garlic and honey for their many health benefits as well as assisting to stimulate a healthy appetite. This is a perfect addition to the feed of picky or reluctant eaters and glucose is an excellent energy form particularly suited to horses in training.
In summary, supplementing with any of our garlic products is a great way to give your horse a natural fly repellent and boost your horse’s immune system. With lots of different options available from Farm & Stable, finding the Garlic product that will work well for you and your yard is easy.
Still have questions about feeding garlic to your horse? Don’t forget we are here to help by offering free, expert advice. Simply send us a message via the online chat function or give us a call – the Farm & Stable team is very happy to help and over 90% of all our product lines are picked, packed and dispatched to you on the same day you order, and then delivered the next working day!