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What's your opinion on sweet feed? I've never used it before and would like to know a little bit about it.
Well .. IMHO it's junk food for horses. I don't and won't feed it but this is just my opinion. I think you'd have to be more specific in what the mix is though.
We fed it back when we didn't know any better. All of our horses were hot, a few were on the verge of founder/laminitis from all of the sugars, and many of them were always on the thin side or downright skinny and we couldn't figure out why considering that each of the big guys was getting 7-10 lbs (O_O BAD US!) and the minis were each getting at least a scoop. They all had terrible flies as well.
Soon as we switched to a different feed, decreased amounts, and started adding more forage, ALL of them gained weight, lost the snotty attitudes (Ok, most of them for that one...not all. LOL) and everyone just looks plain healthier too. Flies pretty much went away as well. Its like switching from candies and cakes to veggies and meat. You miss the candies at first (especially since its cheaper in some cases) but once you realize how good everyone feels on the veggies and meat, you wonder why you didnt change earlier! We went from feeding 40 horses (half minis) 5 bags of sweet feed a day (50 lbs) to only about 3 bags of mostly Safe Choice. Big difference IMO, and the prices ended up almost leveling out!
Ditto what Endiku says. I used to use sweet feed and had almost a chem lab in the feed room, to try and balance everything out for the horses. Now, it's grass hay and Strategy, and even with the increase in feed prices, I still am spending the same to feed 10 almost 11 (pregnant mare) horses as I used to spend to feed 6.
We've fed it for over 30 years and never had a problem, however our sweet feed is very low in molasses. For the minis and my gelding we get a special mix of sweet feed plus a 10% protein pelleted feed. The most anyone gets is about 2.5 lbs per feeding. None of our horses have ever foundered, been lamnitic, been overweight, "hot", or any of the typical stigmas associated with sweet feed. They are also balanced out with almost free choice high quality grass hay. It is not ideal, but at the moment it is what works. Once my horses are on my own property, hopefully I can give them free choice pasture 24/7. Until then, or until I can convince my grandmother otherwise, this is what they get.
If you've never used it before, I wouldn't begin now. Like BBBCrone says, it's "junk food for horses". I try to keep my horse's feed/life as simple as possible. When you think about it, do horses in the wild have a scoop of sweet feed given in between grazing episodes? A horse's main food requirement is hay/grass, (grazing) and then as varying circumstances in domestication may occur, additional supplements may be needed/required due to the domestication. My QH was used to having a 1/2 scoop of sweet feed when I first got her, and I've whittled that to 1/2 cup of Equine Senior (because of the veggies) My mares are fed 1st and 2nd cutting hay, have plain, mineral, and Himalayan salt licks, and only that tiny "whisper" of grain once in the a.m. which is more like a nutritious treat that I don't even consider a part of their "feed" plan.
Cereal grains are VERY high in non structural carbohydrates. Horses cannot digest NSCs properly in the hindgut. The bacteria back there are made to digest fibers. Large amounts of starchy feeds going through the gut all at one time will not process fast enough in the small intestine before it reaches the hindgut. This is the cause of hindgut acidosis ( why horses eating loads of sweet feeds dont see m to gain weight many times) and why a horse that gorges on feed can become laminitic.
Long story short, a little may be ok for horses that dont have metabolic issues, but there are ALOT better choices out there for formulated feeds that are forage based. It is best to try to keep a horses ration primarily forage and under 15% NSC's overall. Corn is 70% Oats are about 50% just to give you an idea. We are learning more than ever before about feeding horses and cereal grains are just not necessary any longer especially now that horses are not working for a living for the most part.
Put your money into good quality hay first. I personally would stay away from sweet feed like trinity says.
If I could lobby for one nutritional "thing" in the horse world, it would be a ban on sweet feed:-P
Wrt oats...from an Ohio State bulletin...
Oats are the traditional feed for horses and are the best choice of the cereal grains for several reasons. Oats are very palatable and are the best nutrient-balanced grain, containing about 53% starch, 12% protein, 5% fat, and 12% fiber. Most importantly, the starch in oats is easily digested (83%) by enzymes in the foregut. Therefore, oat starch doesn't contribute to starch overload in the hind-gut like corn and barley starches do. Oats should be clean, but don't need to be processed, except for horses with poor teeth (very young, sick, or old horses).
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