Today, I will be discussing what the purpose of sweet feed for horses is, what ingredients it is made of, what benefits your horse will receive from sweet feed, and what some alternatives for sweet feed are.
There are so many things you can feed your horse! You’ve likely heard of people feeding their horses hay, oats, grain, sweet feed, and more. Each feed is different, and each feed serves a different purpose.
All horses are different, and all horses have unique dietary needs. So, what works for one horse may not work for another horse. However, the best way to make the most informed decision about your horse’s diet is to be educated on all kinds of horse feed.
What is Sweet Feed For Horses?
Sweet feed is kind of like the “hot dog” of horse feed, meaning that it is kind of a mix of everything. Traditionally, sweet feed is a mixture of oats, corn, barley, soybean meal, molasses, sugars, loose vitamins and minerals, starch, and other mixed textured feed particles.
Some of these ingredients are similar to other feeds. For example, sweet feed often contains oats and corn; some people feed their horses only oats or only corn. Also, some forms of grain have molasses or starch as ingredients.
However, sweet feed is the only feed that tries to combine all of these ingredients into one meal. Some horses can benefit from this, but others simply cannot stomach it.
Purpose of Sweet Feed
Sweet feed serves as a meal-food for horses, just like oats or grain. Horses also need forage, which includes foods like grass and hay. Meal-foods for horses are fed typically twice a day, while horses need access to forage nearly 24-7, all the time. Meal-foods provide horses with protein.
So, sweet feed provides horses with their necessary protein intake. This provides them with the energy they need to get through the day.
Pros of Horse Sweet Feed
Is sweet feed good for horses? There are reasons why the sweet feed is very popular among some horse owners. It is the most popular among people who have their horses at home or who own farms. This is because sweet feed is extremely convenient and uncomplicated.
Sweet feed is typically very cheap. It is much cheaper than feeding your horses a pre-mixed grain. It is also extremely easy to come by. Sweet feed is frequently made by local grain companies, essentially by mixing whatever ingredients they have leftover. These companies then sell it locally for very cheap prices.
Sweet feed is also available from almost every farm supply store, sometimes from local sources and sometimes from commercial sources. So, sweet feed is very inexpensive and also very easy to access.
Cons of Sweet Feed
As can be gathered, sweet feed is not high-quality food. It isn’t specially engineered with ingredients that target certain aspects of a horse’s health. For example, different variations of grain are specially engineered for senior horses, pregnant mares, horses with digestive issues, and so on.
Sweet feed is simply the leftovers. It provides horses with enough nutrients to live on, but it doesn’t target any areas that horses may require nutritional assistance in.
Some horses can thrive on sweet feed. Some horses are naturally “easy keepers” and don’t require specially designed food to remain healthy and happy. But, frequently this is not the case. It is often easy to point out what horses have been eating sweet feed, because they are thinner than the other horses, and their coats are often duller than the other horses.
Sweet feed is easy to get ahold of and easy on your pocket boot, but it is frequently not what is best for your horse. Again, some horses can thrive on sweet feed. But, it is uncommon. And, even so, “thriving” may look different to one horse owner than it does to another.
Kentucky Equine Research has been doing research into how sweet feed could be engineered to be better for horses. They say, ”
“…the nutritional effectiveness of the sweet feed is determined by the proper inclusion of pellets and by the horse owner feeding the proper type and amount of feed. In many instances, horse owners want to buy the attractive looking sweet feed, but if their horse were fed the recommended amount of feed it would become fat.
Most horse owners opt simply to feed less sweet feed. This would guarantee the horse getting the proper number of calories to control body weight, but would result in a diet poorly fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. A solution to this problem would be to pick the important protein, vitamin and mineral pellet out of the sweet feed mix and provide it to the horse without the fattening grain and molasses. By feeding the horse a small amount (less than two pounds per day) of mixing pellet without the additional grain, a diet food of sorts is created.”
In other words, you can feed your horse sweet feed, but maybe don’t do it all the time. Or, feed part sweet feed, and part some other meal-feed.
Alternatives for Sweet Feed
Again, if you feel that you’re stuck feeding your horse sweet feed due to finances and availability, you may be surprised how many other options there are! Do your research into where you can pick up grain. Lots of local farm supply stores carry name brand grains like Purina and Tribute.
Sweet feed has been around forever, and it has been favored by those that keep their horses at home. It is easy to find and easy to buy. While some horses can get by on just eating sweet feed, that isn’t the case for most horses. Sweet feed frequently causes horses to lose weight and for their coats to appear dull and lifeless.
Sweet feed simply doesn’t give horses the nutrients they need to be as healthy as most horse owners believe they should be. As always, every situation is different, but it never hurts to shop around and see what other feed alternatives are available to you!
I hope this article helped you learn more about sweet feed for horses! If so, please share this article, and share with us your opinions of sweet feed!