For many years garlic has been seen to help reduce insect irritation, but what is it about this historically used herb that makes bugs buzz off?
We asked our nutritionist Dr Cliff Lister, to explain all…
The use of garlic in human food and medicine dates back to the Ancient Egyptian times. The advantages of feeding Garlic to horses are numerous and it has shown to be a cost effective method of offering your horse a wide range of health benefits.
What does Garlic offer?
Garlic is rich in Sulphur, which is recognised as having blood cleansing properties that can be useful in treating and preventing diseases in horses. In addition to this it is believed to offer a large number of germ-killing compounds.
The most obvious and well-known benefit of feeding garlic is as a natural insect repellent. When absorbed into the bloodstream, the highly pungent compounds found in Garlic cause the natural body secretions such as sweat to become odorous and repellent to many airborne nuisance-flying insects. This effectively means that Garlic produces an invisible barrier that deters flies, ticks and midges from landing on the skin, reducing the irritation caused to horses and their owners. And it isn’t just external parasites that can be deterred through the use of Garlic. Studies also suggest that it plays an active role in worm control and has shown to be effective at deterring tapeworms, pinworms and round worms.
Garlic can help soothe and maintain a healthy respiratory tract. It contains a substance, which can help to transport mucus along the airways, and this, combined with the natural anti-inflammatory properties, can help relieve the symptoms associated with coughs and colds.
In addition to these well known properties Garlic has also been reported to reduce blood pressure and purify the blood, cleanse the urinary tract, aid digestion, increase appetite and act as a natural antibiotic.
How can you feed Garlic?
Garlic can be fed in several forms, most commonly seen in the form of dehydrated or freeze dried garlic granules and garlic powder, but in more recent years Garlic has become available in a Pure Oil form. Some horse feeds contain Garlic as part of their vitamin and mineral package. An alternative method of feeding Garlic is by allowing your horse free access to a well-formulated lick containing the valuable ingredient, such as Garlic Horslyx. This negates the need for mixing buckets of hard feed, particularly beneficial during the summer months when additional calories may not be needed – or when horses are out at grass.
When fed alongside a balance of vitamins and minerals, Garlic is a valuable addition to all equines whether competition horses or leisure animals.
Don’t underestimate the importance of healthy skin to act as a barrier against biting insects! A key nutrient for supporting the skin integrity is Zinc so ensure your feeding regime contains optimum levels of the ingredient. Look out for chelated zinc which will improve the effectiveness of this key nutrient, you will find it in every Horslyx formulation. Other useful ingredients to look out for to help combat the secondary effects of fly irritation are nutrients that can help support and improve the immune system, such as antioxidants Vitamin E and Selenium. By ensuring your horse is able to fight against viruses, infections and other bacteria, he will be more capable of fending off any infected fly bites or related issues. This is also important when managing a horse with itchy and scurfy skin such as sweet itch.