Improving Semen Quality

August 29, 2019

Improving Semen Quality by Feeding Fish Oil and Vitamin E 

Two of the key ingredients in Equine Omega Complete and Equine Omega Vitamin E

Everyone in the horse breeding business eventually comes across a stallion with questionable fertility. Research has focused on feeding omega-3 fatty acids like fish oil, and more recently the effects of vitamin E on stallion fertility. Both have a lot of promising effects on stallions with no fertility issues and especially those that are subfertile. Some surprising results have been in the improvement of cooling/freezing semen.

Several studies at major universities (Texas A&M, Colorado State and Arizona) have examined the effects of fish oil on semen output and semen quality.  In each study they evaluated fresh, cooled and frozen semen. There was a significant difference of progressive motile sperm with those horses fed omega-3 fatty acids like fish oil. For those stallions that may not cool very well feeding omega-3’s showed an increase in the percentage of morphologically normal sperm and semen concentration. 

Stallion sperm is notorious for having a very low tolerance to cold shock and normally does not freeze well. Horses cannot synthesize omega-6 or omega-3 fatty acids as they lack the appropriate fatty acid enzymes. The omega-6 linoleic acid (LA) and the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) therefore need to be provided in the diet as they are absolutely necessary for numerous processes, including growth, reproduction, vision, and brain development. The omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) have been shown to be extremely beneficial to horses. Most equine rations are very high in omega-6 fatty acids and high omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratios in semen have been associated with reduced sperm quality and fertility. Feeding a balanced omega-3 to omega-6 supplement has shown to improve semen quality. The Equine Omega Complete and Equine Omega Vitamin E supplements both provide this important balance.

Sperm require a high fatty acid content to provide the membrane with the fluidity essential at fertilization. However, this makes spermatozoa particularly vulnerable to attack by reactive oxygen species, and oxidative stress (just from lifestyle factors) is associated with reduced fertility. Subfertile stallions have higher levels of reactive oxygen species. This can cause sperm dysfunction and genetic damage. Vitamin E helps improve sperm quality by improving sperm function and genetic integrity. It has antioxidant properties that protect sperm from damage. Research from France, Canada and the United States shows feeding all natural vitamin E can improve sperm count and motility, and because oxidation happens continuously, it is essential to feed vitamin E on a continual basis. The results from these studies confirmed the protective and beneficial effects of feeding vitamin E. It should be noted that it is important to feed all natural vitamin E versus synthetic as all natural vitamin E has been shown to be up to six times more bio available to the horse. Equine Omega Complete and Equine Omega Vitamin E products contain all natural vitamin E.


Modern horses have little, if any, access to fresh pasture. Omega-3 concentrations in preserved forage are low, and animal diets are often supplemented with fat derived from oilseeds rich in LA (omega-6 linoleic acid). Therefore, there are grounds in our horse’s diets for reducing the omega-6 intake and increasing the omega-3 intake to promote better reproductive health. We are just beginning to see the amazing benefits of vitamin E, and what we are seeing in fertility results so far, is very promising. 


A recent customer testimonial –  “I have numbers for you on my senior stallion that we put on Equine Omega Complete when we got him last August. From our initial collection, we got 2.4 billion cells and about 50% on his motility.  It dropped to 10% at 24 hours. Our December collection, after being on Equine Omega Complete for a few months and getting a better feed/hay and overall program, yielded 7.07 billion cells with 70-80% motility, and 60% at 24 hours. Our first collection that went out a few weeks ago to a mare owner had 12 billion cells, and at 24 hours we still had 70% motility straight out of the box, not warmed up.  At 48 hours, it was still well over 50%. CRAZY for a 20 year-old stallion, right? We’re super excited about these numbers!” Brenna Weaver


If you have questions or would like more information or to order, please visit our website at Be sure to see our customer reviews. If you would like to speak to our nutritional consultant, please call 855-366-8822.

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