ridecamp@endurance.net: Re: Oil

Re: Oil

Susan F. Evans (suendavid@worldnet.att.net)
Thu, 17 Apr 1997 12:33:15 -0700

Monika and Don Smith wrote:
>Hi Susan, question on oil, aside from the palatability factor...! Do
>you know where larger quantities can be obtained? That little 4 litre
>container doesn't last all that long! And would larger quantities have
>a problem with longevity?

Hi Monika,

I don't know if you're close to a fair size city/town---if you are, and
have access to one of the wholesale clubs like Price Club, Smart &
Final, Costco, Sam's Club? They carry oil in larger (cheaper) sizes, up
to five gallons. Around here, I think it's about $22 for five gallons,
but not sure.

However, there IS a shelf-life factor in buying larger sizes. Almost
any vegetable oil will start to oxidize as soon as it's exposed to light
and air. What that means is that some of the chemical bonds between the
fatty acids in the oil will bind with oxygen, forming peroxides. First
of all, this is going to make the oil go rancid, smell and taste bad and
make it even more unpalatable if Koko already isn't wild about it.
Second, once the rancid oil gets into the body, the peroxide molecules
are highly reactive (oxygen is a very electronegative and therefore
reactive atom) and causes a number of assorted chemical reactions in the
body, none of them life-threatening or anything to get excited about,
but none of them beneficial, either. Something to avoid if
possible---though the decrease in palatability is the main disadvantage.

So if you do buy oil in quantities that you can't use up in about ten
days or so, then you need to protect the oil against light and air. If
at all possible, keep it refrigerated and just pull off enough oil to
use up in a few days or maybe a week. I know, this isn't always easy to
do if you don't have an extra frig---I have a hard enough time just
stuffing the human/dog/cat/cockatoo and squirrel's groceries into my
frig without taking up an entire shelf with a huge jug of horsey oil!
Second option is to keep the main supply someplace cool and dark and
still just draw off what you need. The darker and cooler the better,
and the less you open up the main container (thus introducing a fresh
supply of oxygen), the better. Another idea is to save up the 4 litre
jugs and pour the five gallons into a bunch of the smaller containers,
keeping the smaller jugs tightly capped and in a dark place. This will
also decrease the amount of air getting to the oil, since there is less
airspace in the smaller jugs.

> Also, do you know if chemicals are added to the processessing to make it
> usable for human consumption (eg extends shelf life and so one) that might
> be a problem for horses?

The additives most commonly added to fats (and lots of other things) is
BHA and BHT, which are anti-oxidants, like Vitamin E and beta carotene
are. It helps retard the oxidizing effect described above, and is used
in human foods all the time. The FDA and the food industry just loves
the stuff because when they did the usual Let's Stuff it Down Lab
Animals Throats and Try to Make Them Get Cancer, not only did the
animals not get cancer, the incidence of disease actually dropped. So
BHA and BHT is about as safe an additive as ever existed. There is (in
my opinion) nothing to be concerned about in feeding it to the horses
and maybe even some minor health benefits, though nothing to get excited
about. Apparently the health benefits come from the fact that
antioxidants protect DNA and other biological molecules against attack
by free radicals, which are molecules with a lone electron attached
(electrons usually like to travel in pairs) which is highly reactive.
If radicals attack something like DNA, it tends to set off chain
reactions in the entire DNA molecule because there's only so much room
for electrons in an atom's orbitals and so things get pushed around,
bonds break and re-form in different places and you end up with a
molecule entirely different from the one you started with, which is not
always a good thing, especially in a DNA molecule whose purpose in life
is the provide blueprints to re-create itself. Sorry, didn't plan on
venturing off into the Land of Orbital Theory. Too much coffee this
morning, I guess. Anyway, bottom line is there isn't anything to worry
about in feeding an oil containing BHA and/or BHT. As Martha Stewart
would say, It's A Good Thing.

Pretty much the main method for playing around with oils is through
hydrogenation, where they force some of the double carbon bonds on the
fatty acid chain to accept hydrogen atoms. This has the effect of
increasing shelf life (since the places where oxygen atoms would bind to
are now blocked by relatively unreactive hydrogen atoms), and it also
makes the texture of the oil get harder. This is how they get vegetable
oil margarine spreads to stop being liquid and look like butter. Nifty,

> We're in canola country here...so corn oil is a tad expensive. But,
> shouldn't be any different in digestability or energy?

Then go ahead and use canola. There is so little difference in
digestibility and energy levels that even the NRC doesn't bother to
divide fats beyond animal fat and vegetable fats. There is some
argument about some of the specific fatty acids within different oil
sources, like Omega-3 and Omega-6, which are the fatty acids in
(primarily) fish oil (and also in plants in smaller amounts) that has
some cardiovascular benefits in humans. You've probably heard of the
terms linolenic and linoleic fatty acids? These are examples of omega-3
and omega-6 fatty acids. They're also called essential fatty acids
(arachidonic is the other one, but this can be synthesized from
linolenic) because the body doesn't synthesize them on its own, it has
to be fed through the diet. However, horses don't have cholesterol
problems and don't have the heart disease problems humans do. Linolenic
and linoleic FA's are necessary, and they are in large part what puts a
nice shine on the coat, and are important in the lipid-protein
structure of cell membranes, in steroid and hormone production and
other stuff. However, just a good, balanced ration (and in your case,
some veggie oil) is going to supply a sufficient amount. It's just not
something worth getting all worked up about. In any event, for what you
want the oil for, there is no really significant benefit that is worth
the expense through buying one oil over another, or in buying organic
oils from a health food store, or getting "cold-pressed" oils or
anything else.

About the only appreciable difference between corn and canola is that
some horses like the taste of corn oil a bit better. However, it sounds
like Koko is like my guys and is going to give you dirty looks every
time you put greasy grain in front of them, regardless of what kind of
oil it is. I tried showing Cato the receipt for what it costs me to
find them every month, but he was still unimpressed ;->.

You might try mixing the oil in with just a bit of bran so the grain
ration doesn't feel/taste as greasy to the horse. Grains have a hard
enough coating that they don't soak up the oil, so it stays greasy.
Bran does soak it up very nicely to cut the greasiness. Just don't
overdo the bran, so you don't get your calcium-phosphorus ratio out of

One advantage to canola over corn oil is that canola is slightly more
saturated than corn oil, which will increase the shelf life just a bit.
Not much, but some, and I like to take my victories wherever I can.

> Somewhere I read that peanut oil has the highest caloric value of the oils
> (next is synthetic crude I guess!) but it has additives that are a problem.

Nope. It's just the same. Plant-derived fat is fat is fat,
(calorie-wise) for all intents and purposes and peanut oil is DEFINITELY
not worth the high price. And actually, crude oil doesn't have caloric
value (I know, you were just kidding) because of all the nasty benzenes
and toluenes and phenols that don't react well with living critters.
So, actually, vegetable oil is the most calorie-dense food (it's even a
bit higher than animal fat).

Hope you find this useful. Good luck with Koko and Ripp!

Susan Evans

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