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Feeding Horses for Optimal Vaccine ResponseBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · July 18, 2016

Vaccination plays a key role in protecting horses against important contagious and mosquito-borne diseases such as equine herpesvirus, West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalomyelitis, and rabies. Can you help your horse’s immune system respond to those vaccines for ultimate protection against disease? According to researchers from South Dakota State University*, yes.

“Ensuring optimal response to vaccination will provide maximal protection against many preventable diseases, limiting needless horse losses each year,” noted Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., an equine nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research.

To demonstrate the importance of nutrition following vaccination, the research group fed horses either a pelleted diet meeting the basic requirements described by the National Research Council (NRC)**, a diet providing a higher plane of nutrition, or a diet with supplemental fatty acids. Diets were fed for 111 days prior to vaccination, and response to vaccination was subsequently measured.

The key finds were that horses fed at a higher plane of nutrition and diets supplemented with fatty acids had an elevated response to vaccination than horses fed diets only meeting NRC basic nutrition recommendations.

“This research supports the use of fatty acids such as EO•3 for boosting your horse’s response to vaccination,” summarized Crandell.

In addition, don’t forget the other benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in horses, including:

“This study also illustrates the benefit of maintaining a horse on a higher quality feed that supports immune health, like the products made by KER’s Brand Alliance Partners,” Crandell added.

*Kendall, O.A., A. Young, E.D. Lamprecht, et al. 2016. The effect of diet on serum antibody response to vaccine in horses. Journal of Animal Science. Supplement 294: 190-191.

**NRC. 2007. Nutrient Requirements of Horses, 6th Rev. Ed. National Academies Press. Washington, D.C.