The Importance of Kelp for Horses

Importance of kelp for horses

Kelp for Horses?

Kelp/Seaweed for horses has stood the test of countless centuries.  If horses are near the ocean they have been known to wade in to reach seaweed for the many benefits kelp provides them.

Horses relish the health giving nutrients of seaweed when they have the opportunity, eating kelp from beaches and grazing on the plants in shallow sea water.

In the Orkney Islands, off the mainland of Scotland, it was noticed that sheep grazing on kelp were generally in better overall condition and had more resistance to illness, especially coughs and respiratory problems such as COPD and SPAOD. This led to the development of specialized feed additives based on sea weed and kelp.

kelp for horses

Firstly, kelp contains 46 minerals, 16 amino acids and 11 vitamins. Hardly “precious little of anything else”.

Secondly, the level of iodine in a good batch of kelp is negligible. There is a percieved danger that iodine toxicities occur when a horse is fed too much seaweed – but, if fed with care, kelp and seaweed can provide unique benefits to a horse’s health. If fed correctly the level of iodine is way below toxic levels.

Juliette of the Herbs-Juliette de Bairacli Levy

The world`s greatest Herbalist, Author & Veterinarian Juliette de Bairacli Levy introduced seaweed in the 1930`s. She has written books on the subject of herbs, in which she gives special mention to seaweed and the value of natural iodine and its use especially for pregnancy and strength of bones etc.

Juliette de Bairacli Levy was the first to recommend seaweed as a nutritional supplement for animals, in the 1930s. Veterinarians of the day mocked her suggestion, but today she has been proved to have been correct. Kelp is now widely used and accepted as a valuable and inexpensive feed supplement for all livestock including horses and dogs.

Reasons to Use Kelp for Horses:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Demulcent
  • Emollient
  • Protective against radiation
  • Immuno-stimulant
  • Anti-cancer
  • Anti-tumor
  • Anti-cancer
  • Anti-viral
  • Soothing to intestinal mucosa

It appears that the reason seaweed and kelp may benefit horses is in both the combination of nutrients and the content of Algin.

Kelp for horses

Kelp Alginates:

  • Assist in the prevention of absorption of toxic metals like mercury, cadmium, plutonium and cesium.
  • Protect the body against radiation.

Martin Zucker (The Veterinarians Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs) recommends kelp for dogs for cancer, heart disease, mange, old age, stool eating and thyroid gland regulation.

Hilary Page Self (A Modern Horse Herbal) says that kelp is “used extensively for underactive thyroid, and as an excellent source of iodine and minerals for the body and used externally for compresses to reduce inflammation and arthritic pain.”

Why Feed Kelp to Horses?

why feed kelp for horses

Modern intensive farming practices have resulted in soils with deficiencies that are reflected in the low nutritional content of grasses and grains grown on these soils, and in the health of the animals raised and maintained on these crops. 

Lush and otherwise nutritious grasses may fail to supply the needs of your horses because certain trace elements are missing.  Horses have finely balanced needs for trace elements: too little produces deficiency symptoms, too much may be toxic.

Benefits of Kelp for Horses

  • Stimulates the thyroid
  • Calms nervous horses
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Increases fertility
  • Removes heavy metals from the body
  • Treats iodine deficiency
  • Antirheumatic
  • Immune Enhancing
  • Improves skin & coat condition
  • Antibiotic
  • Amino acids, trace minerals, and vitamins
  • Protective against radiation

17 Essential Amino Acids in Kelp for Horses

  • Arginine
  • Alanine
  • Aspartic acid
  • Coleucine
  • Cysline
  • Glutamic acid
  • Glycine
  • Histidine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Proline
  • Serine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Tyrosine
  • Valine


It is the iodine content of the seaweeds and kelp used in an equine supplement that is most important.

Studies indicate that kelp contains more vitamins and minerals than any other foodstuff!

The trace-mineral content (potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron) is among the highest of any known single source, but it’s the iodine content in kelp that makes it especially good for your mental and physical health.

Kelp was traditionally used as a remedy for thyroid gland diseases, caused by iodine deficiency.

Kelp for horses

Iodine is a key trace element in nutrition. It enters into the life of every cell in the body and its more decisive action is its effect upon the thyroid gland, which, through its secretion of thyroxine, controls the rate of metabolism.

Read: 6 Reasons to Give Your Horse Trace Minerals

I recommend giving your horses free choice access to Kelp along with Sea Salt. Horses have the innate ability to know how much they need and will eat more or less depending on what their body needs. My herd has 24 hour/day access to Sea Salt and Kelp which is in separate buckets in loafing areas and the barn where they hang out.

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