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Antioxidants, Omega-3s Improve Stallion FertilityBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · September 22, 2016

Optimal stallion health begets optimal semen health, which further begets optimal fertility rates in breeding programs. Proper nutrition contributes monumentally to overall health, including the consumption of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. However, the exact benefits of those supplements remain unclear, and questions persist regarding whether antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids impact fresh, cooled, and frozen semen quality similarly.

To further assess the benefits of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids on semen, horses were offered either an oral nutritional supplement or a placebo for 30 weeks. The supplement contained a variety of nutrients, including L-carnitine, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E, among a variety of other vitamins and minerals.

After collecting and analyzing samples at various time points, researchers found:

  • Nutritional supplementation increased total motility, speed, and acrosomal membrane integrity in fresh semen;
  • Nutritional supplementation increased total motility and speed in cooled samples; and
  • Nutritional supplementation increased motility and acrosomal membrane integrity in frozen samples;
  • No difference in volume, appearance, or sperm concentration between supplemented and unsupplemented samples.

Progressive motility and an intact acrosome—a sac filled with enzymes located at the head of the spermatozoa that facilitate fertilization of the mare’s egg—are key features of healthy sperm. As such, the study authors concluded that “supplementation with nutraceuticals containing fatty acids and antioxidants improved the quality of fresh, cooled, and frozen stallion semen. Therefore, nutraceutical use should increase the success of artificial insemination with cooled and cryopreserved semen.”

Kentucky Equine Research (KER) offers several nutritional supplements that, according to this research, fit the bill perfectly,” noted Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist.

For example, EO•3 is a marine-derived oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA and EPA, and Nano•E provides a highly bioavailable natural vitamin E to horses through a unique nanodispersion delivery system. Australian horse owners should also look for Preserve, an antioxidant product that contains natural vitamin E, organic selenium, and vitamin C.

*Leão Freitas, M., C. Silva Bouéres, T. Almeida Pignataro, et al. 2016. Quality of fresh, cooled, and frozen semen from stallions supplemented with antioxidants and fatty acids. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. 46:1-6.