Sweet feed is not good for horses. Any feed containing ingredients like corn, molasses, wheat, "grain sweepings", "grain byproducts", etc. should be avoided. These things are high in sugar and starch, which is not what the equine digestive system is made to deal with.
Horses' are designed to digest and process low protein, high fiber, low starch food, and lots of it. The perfect "food" for horses is pasture grazing. A close second is hay or hay products (cubes, pellets, shredded hay, etc.). To keep a healthy weight, metabolism, and gut, at least 80% of a horse's diet should consist of some kind of forage, preferably 100%.
Diets with measurable amounts of grain or grain products can create behavioral issues, weight issues (too skinny or too fat), and poor hoof quality and/or growth, skin and/or hoof issues (suseptability to thrush, rain rot, WLD, seedy toe, greasy heal, etc.), in some horses. IME, it's best to avoid grains and grain products if at all possible.
I have been feeding my horses a very simple diet for the last year and it has shown tremendous results. Other friends that have tried with me have all had similar results. EVERYONE that has gone through with this forage based diet, and stuck to it, has seen positive changes in their horses. My horses keep their weight better (fat horse is not so fat, skinny horse holds his weight), my mare's seasons are not as bad, their work ethic is better, and they're less excitable in new or normally "scary" situations.
What I feed:
- Free choice pasture grazing and mixed grass hay (Bermuda with local grasses)
- 2-5 lbs of Alfalfa pellets (depending on the horse and their work schedule)
- A vitamin supplement that is 100% complete
- Milled Flax
- 1/2 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar (to make it all stick and aid in digestion)
That's it! NO grain, no feed, nothing extra. Their feet are coming in SO nicely, haircoats are glossy without any maintenance, manes and tails are growing well, and they just have a glow about them. My vet is very impressed and is now doing his own research on grain-free diets so he can advise his other clients about it when they ask for nutrition advice.
The BEST "off-the-shelf" vitamin that I tried was NutriPlus++. I used the 1 oz serving. GrandVite also gave good results. Equine Products Inc - Top quality equine supplements Grand Meadows
I use HorseTech.com
for my flax. I was using their BioFlax added to a 1 oz serving of NutraFlax for added flax. Quick Links View Cart
I wanted to try and get down to one supplement, so I had them custom blend me a product similar to NutriPlus++, but with more biotin, no vitamin D (fat soluable vitamin that is found in good hay and grazing), and with their flax as a base. So far, it's working VERY well and I am happier with less steps
. HorseTech.com does custom blends at no extra charge, just for the ingredients. It's Trial 471 if anyone wants to order or ask about it. The cost is $0.87 a day/serving, shipping included. I can email or post a nutrient breakdown if anyone is interested.
My new Haflinger has been on this diet for almost month and I'm seeing improvements to his coat condition and the new hoof growth coming in is very nice.