Addressing the special needs of stallions
Many stallions are used strictly for breeding purposes, while others have additional activities as athletes and working stock. All working horses have increased nutrient and energy requirements, so feeding your stallion based on his exercise level and age will help maintain an overall healthy animal. There are, however, specific nutrients that a breeding stallion should receive to support prime spermatozoa production and formation.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Supplemental omega-3 fatty acids in a stallion’s diet have been evaluated in multiple equine research trials. The results indicated that the omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA in particular) can aid in normal sperm cell formation and increase concentration of these sperm cells in the semen. Researchers also observed improved sperm motility when stallions were fed these omega-3 fatty acids. This research was conducted on fresh, cooled, and frozen semen, so whether your stallion is covering mares or you are shipping semen across the country, it makes good sense to support your stallion’s fertility by providing the right source of omega-3.
Hard-working stallions need energy. Many stallions experience an increase in metabolic rate during the busy months of breeding season and so require extra calories. A thin stallion may lack the energy he needs to do his job. High-quality fat supplements can provide “safe” calories to stallions during a rigorous breeding season. Supplemental fat can provide the additional calories more effectively and without any of the harmful side effects that accompany high-grain diets. Fats are also a “cool” energy source. They produce less internal warming when digested so stallions remain cooler in the hot weather, and fat does not cause the hormone spikes that can lead to excitability. This allows stallions to remain focused on the job at hand, be it in the show ring or the breeding shed.
Natural vitamin E
This potent antioxidant buoys the immune system of the breeding stallion, protecting his health in times of stress. Research also demonstrated that vitamin E supplementation can improve the integrity of the sperm’s cellular membrane, increasing sperm quality, a key to high conception rates. Libido can also be positively impacted by natural vitamin E supplementation.
Electrolytes perform critical functions within a stallion’s body. In addition, they assist the body in maintaining fluid balance. Under normal circumstances, well-nourished, sedentary stallions will have little trouble keeping electrolytes at appropriate levels without additional supplementation. This does not, however, hold true for stallions that sweat due to exercise, stress, or warm weather. Stallions that sweat may lose more electrolytes than their bodies are capable of replacing from their diet alone. In these instances electrolyte supplementation is important. Electrolytes also stimulate the thirst response that reduces the risk of dehydration.