Spirulina powder for horses is a dense, green powder derived from fresh water, blue green algae. In laboratory experiments it has been documented, both in vitro and in vivo, as having potent anti-histaminic, anti-inflammatory and immune system moderating effects. Feed spirulina to horses to support skin and lung health as well as providing an excellent source of protein.
Spirulina is often used as a vegan source of protein and vitamin B12. It is between 55-70% protein, but studies suggest it is a subpar source of B12, as the vitamin is not absorbed well after ingestion.
Human evidence suggests that spirulina can improve lipid and glucose metabolism, while also reducing liver fat and protecting the heart. Animal studies are very promising as well, as spirulina has been shown to be of similar potency as commonly used reference drugs, when it comes to neurological disorders. These effects also extend to arthritis and immunology.
Spirulina has a few active components. The main ingredient is called phycocyanobilin, which makes up about 1% of spirulina. This compound mimics the bodys bilirubin compound, in order to inhibit an enzyme complex called Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Phosphate (NADPH) oxidase. By inhibiting NADPH oxidase, spirulina provides potent anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects.
Spirulina is an excellent choice when a protein supplement is needed for horse growth or horse muscle development as it is highly digestible. It is a more concentrated source of protein than soybean meal and also more digestible. Although it contains all the essential amino acids it is low on methionine and lysine so it is wise to make sure extra supplementation of these are included in the daily diet.
If your horse is demonstrating allergies of the lungs and skin then including Spirulina in your horses bucket feed each day can be beneficial. It is also good practice to provide Spirulina for horses with heaves.
Spirulina is excellent for the control of respiratory inflammatory and allergic responses. The benefits seen when spirulina is fed can be enhanced by MSM (anti-inflammatory) and vitamin C (the key antioxidant in the lungs).
How much Spirulina for horses?
The amount of spirulina to feed for an average 500 kg horse is 20 grams twice day for average size adult horse. One 25 ml scoop holds approximately 20 grams of spirulina. Scale up or down depending upon the size of your horse. Feeding too much however is not a problem.
How to feed Spirulina to Horses
Most horses will get used to the smell if you persist and find inventive ways of reducing or disguising the smell. Mint, carrot juice and liquorice powder can all be useful. If all this fails then resorting to mixing with oil and then syringing into the mouth immediately before feeding will be necessary. You might get away with syringing small amounts each day just before giving a bucket feed so the horse becomes used to both the taste and smell of the spirulina.
If the above doesn’t work, mix into oil and feed by syringe immediately before feeding the bucket feed, putting gradually increasing amounts of the feed amount into the food. The taste will already be in the horse’s mouth when they eat so gradually they will come to accept the addition of spirulina in their food.
Spirulina is a member of the group cyanobacteria, aka blue-green algae. This is a large family and not all forms are beneficial to consume so be sure it is human grade spirulina you are purchasing.
Chlorella, like Spirulina, is nutritious and safe but it does not have the same high protein, immune modulating and antihistamine effects.