Doc’s Blog

Flaxseed for Horses

The other day I was searching the internet for information about cyanide poisoning in horses.  I googled ‘cyanide poisoning equine’ and got 3,490,000 hits.  It’s safe to say that one could find a wide variety of research to support any point of view on the relative toxicity, if any, of cyanide to horses.  It brings to mind the old adage that even the Devil can quote scripture to his advantage.

Actually, I was trying to find information about any problems with feeding soaked flaxseed or linseed to horses.  Freshly ground flaxseed is commonly fed to horses as a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Uncooked seeds do contain a small amounts of cyanogenetic glycosides and enzymes that allow the glycosides to release cyanide. It’s not a problem, though, because any glycosidase enzymes thus produced are rapidly destroyed in the stomach and small intestine before they can trigger cyanide release. So, horse owners wanting to take advantage of flaxseed's omega-3 fatty acid content can rest easy when horses are fed raw flaxseed.

Some horses experience digestive problems from the accumulation of sand in the large intestines. (Yes, his really happens - Veterinarians have reported cases where up to 50-60 pounds of sand were found in the right dorsal colon.)  Soaked flaxseed is often used to treat this condition as it releases a viscous gelatinous substance traps the sands so it can be eliminated from the body.

If a person still has concerns about feeding flaxseed they can replace it with soaked psyllium seeds, which also aid in removing sand but has a different omega-3 content.

Politician’s Unspoken Rule

All politicians have an unspoken rule: “The truth, while preferable, always takes second place to getting what you want.”

Aberrant Animal Behavior

     Laying hens (especially the common Leghorn breed) raised in confinement (housed but not caged) had the reputation of being nervous and flighty.  It was common practice to knock on the door before entering the poultry-house. Suddenly entering the facility without this advance warning would alarm the birds and the flock would rush to the opposite end of the building.  They would often pile up and some birds would die of suffocation.  It would affect egg production for several days.  Funny though: some canny poultrymen would add ground up coal or humates to the ration and the birds would settle right down and become calmer and more content, obviating the need to knock before entering. 

foto home 35523

     Groups of pigs raised in confinement often begin chewing on one another’s tail - tail biting.  It’s not known why they do this but some speculate boredom or some sort of nutritional deficiency - probably a combination.  Conventional remedy goes something like this — “Let’s cut off their tail when they are young so they have no tails to bite.”   Funny though: pigs raised with adequate protein and balanced minerals seldom engage in tail biting.  Unfortunately, once they start this habit they will usually continue the vice even after conditions or nutrition improves. 


      Chickens in confinement have a similar problem - head pecking- also thought to be caused by confinement boredom or poor nutrition. Conventional remedy; “If you cut off the top beak they can’t peck on each other.”  Funny though: if you feed them well and give them a little space they rarely pick up this vice.

    The common thread to all of this is that malnutrition, dietary mineral imbalances and close confinement leads to all sorts of strange social behavior in animals. I believe this holds true for us humans as well.  With much of our population crowded into stifling cities and subsisting on food with low nutritive value and high levels of toxic chemicals - is it any wonder that crime and aberrant social behavior are rampant in our society? 

    Taking away our guns, the equivalent of debeaking; or enforcing political correctness, commensurate to tail amputation. will not fix the problem.

    Perhaps we need to add some coal dust or its mineral equivalent to our human diet.  

So say I, what say ye?

A Global Dung Shortage?

A study by a team of scientists, Dr. Joe Roman at the University of Vermont and Christopher Doughty an ecologist at the University of Oxford, was recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  These scientists  claims that, since the last Ice Age, there has been a massive decline in the capacity of animals to recycle nutrients in the ecosystem through their droppings.

They postulate that the demise of wooly mammoths and other large mammals including whales has resulted in a decline in the movement of key nutrients like phosphorus around the environment thus leaving our planet's soil infertile - with dire consequences for ecosystem health, fisheries and agriculture.

They suggest that restoration of animal populations, such as herds of bison, would help abate the dung crisis and reestablish these nutrient distribution pathways.

I don’t know what these guys were smokin’, but I believe they overlooked several key factors. 

  1. The global daily dung droppings of over 270 million dairy cows would certainly go a long way to compensate for the lack of prehistoric mammoths and whales.  And don’t forget chicken shit, pig poop and beef cow pasture plops - they also adds to the daily dose of dung.   If that’s not enough, consider the mammoth volume of bull shit emanating from our politicos in Washington D.C. and the wannabe’s on the campaign trail. 
  2. Yes, phosphorus is an essential mineral and one whose availability to plants is enhanced by passing through a herbivore.  However, most of the phosphorus used in agriculture is now mined and mechanically spread where needed. 
  3. I am curious why it took 12000 years for these effects to become evident.
  4. I wonder who paid for this research.
Wooly Mammoths

You can read more about this astounding discovery at: