What is Seaweed – Algae and Kelp
Basically, Algae and Seaweed are the same, – a typically aquatic plant that comes in a diverse range including single cell forms. Kelp is also seaweed but usually refers to the large brown varieties Laminariales.
Supplements from seaweed are often called kelp supplements even though they may not be a correct definition. It is important to understand that not just any seaweed – algae supplement from any type of seaweed is good for an animal supplement. Most are too high in iodine and could quickly reach a toxic level. A horse only needs 3 mg per day.
Which Seaweeds-Algae are good or bad for your Horse
1). Brown North Atlantic Seaweed
Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed from the cold North Atlantic has been used for centuries as a natural source feed supplement, low in iodine and rich in vitamins minerals and amino acids.
For thousands of years the Chinese have used kelp in their food and medicines and for agricultural purposes. Investigations into the use of seaweed for animal supplementation were commenced in France following the First World War when fodder was limited. The results of these studies were positive and continued until an industry developed to provide seaweed meal to livestock. Nowadays it is processed using controlled geothermal heat. This allows the seaweed to keep its enzyme potency intact, and keep it a biologically active product with high levels of nutrients. When a safe variety, such as Ascophyllum nodosum, is given on a regular basis, it can assist the nutritional wellbeing of the horse. It is composed of 60 elements, 16 amino acids and 12 vitamins. As well as the combination of these nutrients the content of Algin provides an antioxidant effect, it attracts heavy metals and removes them from the body. The availability of Carotene, Tocopherol and Folic Acid is useful. It also induces a high level cytokinin type activity. Cytokinins are involved in cell division and as such growth and replacement of cells. It has been shown to improve thyroid stimulation and also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits.
2). Red Algae called Lithothamnoin
This is a species found in more temperate waters and some is found around New Zealand. There are many species, and they are mainly used to provide calcium for milk products for humans. The use for horses has been promoted to assist raising the calcium level in the stomach as a high level of calcium can alter the pH (acidity) and assist to prevent ulcers. However, it affects the pH while it is present, and a great cause of ulcers is from horses with empty stomachs (restricted from grazing and insufficient hay replacement) and so limited as a long-term solution. Raising the calcium levels of a horse is not necessarily beneficial as it alters the ratios of other minerals ….link to supplements article.
There is little science available on the other actives in these red algae and the iodine levels are not clear, it does contain heavy metals but again details of levels in respect of horses, are not available. Increasing calcium in a feed can be supplied by legumes such as Lucerne chaff which stays in the gut for a longer period and also provides the daily protein requirement for a horse.
When supplementing with red algae it is important to not feed any other calcium, e.g., in premixed feeds, mineral supplements and lucerne chaff or clover hay.
3). Other Seaweeds
There are other seaweeds -kelps- algae that can be used for liquid fertilisers and have been incorrectly used for animal supplements. Most have high levels of iodine, so it is very important to know which variety is in a product.
A horse has a daily requirement of approximately 3 mg per day, however it can tolerate up to 50 mg before it has serious negative effects on their health. Some liquid Kelp supplements provide 120 mg s a dose – so it is very important to check the labels of any supplement containing kelp or enquire as to how much iodine is provided in each recommended dose. Goitre is one of the main problems of overfeeding iodine.
There are other kelps that can be used for liquid fertilisers and have been used for supplements. Other kelp than Ascophyllum nodosum may have high levels of iodine so it is very important to know which kelp is being used. A horse has a daily requirement of approximately 3 mg per day, however it can tolerate up to 50 mg before it has serious negative effects on their health. Some liquid Kelp supplements provide 120 mg is a dose – so it is very important to check the labels of any supplement containing kelp, or enquire as to how much iodine is provided in each recommended dose. Goitre is one of the main problems of overfeeding iodine.
Kelp for Dogs
There is an increase in the use of green feeds for dogs, part of the move towards natural diets. Again, it is important to make sure the kelp source is from the correct low iodine seaweed. Researcher Martin Zucker author of The Veterinarians Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs, has included the
benefits of kelp in a dog’s diet. He puts forward that it is useful against cancer, heart disease, mange, old age problems, and thyroid gland regulation.
As with horses, the alginates will assist in preventing the absorption of toxic metals like mercury and cadmium. The full range of nutrients are beneficial for dogs, kelp has an advantage over other green feeds as it does not have cellulose encircling the cell wall, cellulose can be difficult for a dog to digest.
Of particular advantage to dogs is the effect of not just coat colour enhancement, but very helpful for dogs with skin allergies and alopecia. It may take several weeks but improvement in skin dryness and itchiness have been recorded. As it helps to improve metabolism the energy level is increased and resistance to disease and assisting immune functions are other benefits.