The best horse feeds for all life stages is the Manna Pro Calf-Manna Supplement. You can give this to your mare from the beginning of her early developmental stages. In fact, don’t be afraid to feed this to her right after birth. You can add it to the milk or other feeds. It’s one of those healthy feeds for energy production and immune health. This performance supplement contains high proteins, amino acids, and oats as natural ingredients. The carbohydrates too offer regeneration for all life stages. So what you probably missed out on in other best feeds, you can make up for with this one.
An upgrade, in price, from our previous pick would be the Missing Link Equine Plus Formula. It contains healthy glucosamine, fiber, omega fatty acids, and phyto-plant nutrients for supporting general health. This feed, is quite frankly, the missing item from your mare’s dietary needs. It supports fat absorption in the tissues to boost stamina levels. The fiber content aids digestion. And the omega fatty acids work on regulating healthy intracellular responses in the body. So all-in-all, these best feeds have the right ingredients to keep your equine company.
The least expensive and best feed that we’re most confident about is the Manna Pro Apple Trail Nuggets. It is my favorite choice because these feeds are bite-sized apple treats for training. You can train your mare in a natural and healthy way. No more bribing or relying on commercial and artificial fillers. It’s good for fussy eaters as the peppermint taste is delicious. Also, the bag the feeds come in is lightweight and easy to carry, which is good for storage. For equine owners looking for a cheaper and healthier alternative, this pick is good for all life stages.
A Little Background
Our research only supports reliable and best horse feeds brands for complete nutritional care. So you know what invest in without worrying about price and feed quality. However, understanding the key basics of horse feeds and where they come from is as significant as researching brands. This expert section of the article will focus a little bit on the history and recognition of horse feeds as a healthy alternative for your horse’s nutritional needs. Sounds simple enough? So let’s begin.
History suggests that feeding your mare plain oats is a proven, inexpensive, and healthy choice. This also includes varied kinds of cereal grains, both textured and pelleted, for vitamins, energy, and other nutrients. But recent studies have placed significant emphasis on the nutritional benefits of added minerals, vitamins, and energy for better fortification and development. So foraging for high-quality grains in a textured or pelleted blend has become more versatile than traditional horse feeding ways.
The equine industry now emphasis on the need for both traditional and biotech ingredients to boost immunity, digestion, and metabolic health. Biotech ingredients include genetically modified, or GM, crops which are cultivated and distributed for pets with special nutritional needs.
However, only with safe and effective steps can it be said that investing in GM products for feeding is good for your mare. These crops share a common ground when it comes to treating short or long-lived health conditions. (1)
Simply put, what are the main healthy ingredients that horses can eat?
They are pasture grass and plants, grains, hay, formulated salts and minerals, concentrated mixes, and treats. Even though these herbivores require a specific nutritional diet they need all the essential nutrients present in natural foods. This includes minerals, vitamins, fiber, and proteins, and energy. These herbivores are different in their eating habits because of their one-of-a-kind digestive system. They need consistent food served in smaller amounts because of their long digestive tract. (2)
Different Types of Best Horse Feeds
The unique eating habits of a horse shouldn’t discourage you from pursuing the best ingredients for overall well-being and nutritional care. Here’s what you need to know about this herbivore’s gastrointestinal system for understanding equine nutrition.
Unlike cattle, a mare is a non-ruminant herbivore. What this means is that they lack multiple digestive compartments in the stomach to store and digest food. That makes a mare’s digestive tract similar to that of a human’s. But unlike humans, your mare belongs to the herbivore family which means she can survive on a plant-based diet for a healthy gut.
According to a study, the stomach of a mare takes up only 10% of the digestive system capacity. So the natural feeding habit is only possible in small amounts. (3)
With that out of the way, let’s look at the different types of horse feeds on the market.
This includes pasture grass as well as plants. This is the most natural diet for a herbivore as it contains most nutrients required for growth, immunity, and overall well-being. A good pasture grass and plant feed contains silica, which is good for dental health. While eating small amounts of this food can also aid digestion, metabolism, and muscle development in wild herbivores. Those of you who maintain an easy-going activity level for their mares need limited amount of pasture for feeding. Pasture is responsible for providing a good amount of nutrition, if not to cure, but prevent serious illnesses.
One of the most traditional horse feeds is oats. Oats are grains with are grown, harvested, and processed to meet the needs of equine nutrition. Similarly, to also contribute to many processes such as dental, digestive, and metabolic health. There are other types of grains such as corn that can be fed to your mare. They come to closest to providing nutrition to even a wild mare.
Other types of grain such as rice bran and wheat are not suitable for horses. So if you plan on feeding your mare in a more natural environment, without fillers and concentrated mixes, opting for natural corn and oats is essential.
However, you should know that feeding too much processed grain to your mare is not a good thing. Overeating can cause stomach ulcers and chewing problems. That said, you will not meet a mare who doesn’t like devouring grain. So over-feeding your mare is very likely.
Many times, investing in high-quality pasture plants or grass is close to impossible and impractical for some peoples. In such a case, opting for the next best choice for horse feeds seems plausible. Hay, which can offer benefits good pasture grass can. But it may be also be that you’re buying low-quality hay at a higher price or are unable to find hay with rich vitamins and minerals. You can compensate for such a shortage of nutrients with the help of supplements. But purchasing hay to feed your mare can be a good choice if you want to give her 24-hour access to the feeder.
Plenty of ingredients such as beet pulp, grains, flax seed, molasses, bran, vitamins, minerals, etc. make up a concentrated mix. Such a horse feed is best for when you have a large number of horses in your field. So serving such concentrated mixes is good for boosting nutrient absorption and energy.
Horses with nutrient deficiency who also are low on energy are often nursed back to health with the help of such mixes. This also applies to nursing mares, foal, and athletic wild and working horses. Feeding a serving of concentrated mix along with either hay or grass is a good way to boost energy production in wild mares.
Minerals are often found in a supplement form along with salt. These you can serve to your mare along with the concentrated mix or orally. Minerals and salt are good for controlling craving in wild mares. If you keep loose salt in a pasture plant or grass or hay, it is a good alternative to heavier meals.
That said, if you wish to avoid feeding your mare salt, you can opt for free choice minerals as well. Such minerals are best when added to concentrated mixes or in your grain or hay feed. According to studies, salt consumption inevitably increases during hotter climates than during the winter months. So opting for a free choice mineral supplement during the summer months would be a good idea.
The last best horse feeds are treats. You can opt for versatile flavors including apples, sugar cubes, candies, carrots, boiled eggs, or other handful of fruits and vegetables. You can also find grain-flavored and cooked horse treats. Feeding meat or sugary treats can be a bit tricky, especially when your mare has a health condition or a sensitive digestive system. So opt for vegetable and fruit treats such as apple or oats or carrots.
Because they are herbivores, meat treats are most likely to upset their stomach and cause intestinal discomfort. You want to help regulate a healthy intestinal flora of your mare as much as possible. And treating your mare with flavored meat tidbits is not the way to do so. Hence, feeding your mare fruits and vegetables instead of meat can reduce craving and aid proper weight management.
How We Picked
If you want to do what’s right for your mare, you need to know about the factors that make a good horse feed brand reliable and harmless.
Best feed form: Do you want textured or pelleted horse feed for your equine companion?
Horse owners often discuss the benefits of purchasing either textured or pelleted food. This decision is based on the following factors, including where you’ve purchased the feed from, the brand, and the quality of the textured or pelleted food. Looking out for your mare also means finding the right brand with high-quality ingredients and harmless processing albeit it isn’t the best way to look for a horse feed.
Traditionally, textured food was the most preferred horse feed than pelleted. But now, that tables have finally turned. Studies suggest that pelleted feeds attract less insects and flies with less ingredients deteriorating due to colder climatic conditions. Pelleted foods contain good amounts of grain based on their main ingredient, similarly they’re also good sources of energy because of the carbohydrates content.
You can also serve up a combination of both textured and pelleted food, which is lower in NSC that is starch and sugar quantity. The nutrition in such a formula is good for senior mares. Textured horse feeds are good for senior diets. They aid metabolism and are low in starch and supplementary ingredients. They also have a higher stamina advantage over pelleted foods. But as much as this may be convenient for many equine owners, it’s not the best.
Between textured and pelleted horse feeds, the clear winner is pelleted foods with fairly enough nutrients for complete nutrition. (4)
Best nutritional goals: Based on your purpose of changing to a new and upgraded horse feed can you determine the final nutritional goal.
“I want my equine companion to gain weight and improve energy levels.”
Your nutritional goal should be to increase healthy fiber content. Fiber converts into energy and fat once digested in a mare’s digestive tract. This helps if your mare is underweight. Make sure the food is digestible and that she doesn’t have a dental condition. Bad teeth and weak gums can restrict proper chewing and as a result your cause may be swallowing poorly chewed food. The best horse feed to give for weight gain is hay or pasture grass. Adding alfalfa to the food can also food the fiber content and richness of the hay.
Other high-quality ingredients include beet pulp, concentrated mixes with high-fat supplements, and carbohydrates. (5)
“I want my equine companion to lose weight and become more active.”
Due to a slow metabolic rate and unhealthy genetic tendencies, along with unhealthy external factors, your mare is most likely to gain excess weight. With the combination of high fatty foods including high energy and protein foods, a mare will gain weight and her body condition will deteriorate. Even though this process takes time, weight loss is a necessary step for overweight horses.
According to one study, based on your mare’s current dietary energy intake, losing all that weight will take a longer time. Similarly, because of such a diet, your mare will take more time to lose weight than to gain weight. This is because cutting down calories for equines is not as easy as increasing calorie and energy intake for weight gain.
You can proceed with a reduction of 2-Mcal per day and notice a difference in weight loss in less than 200 days. Or a cut down of 4-Mcal per day with show a significant weight loss difference in less than 100 days. You can opt for either one depending on how your mare responds to the calorie reduction in diet. (6)
Another way to cut down weight is to avoid feeding cereal grain and sugary treats. This is because they contain high starch which increases insulin levels in the body. Instead, opt for soybean, alfalfa, flax, or beet pulp for weight loss. (7)
If you enjoy feeding your equine treats on the daily basis, read the labels carefully before serving. This includes all horse mashes, concentrates, supplements, and treats. You need to minimize calorie intake while reducing intake of certain fatty ingredients. If your equine does all the light work, consider maintaining her diet with forage, water, certain multivitamins. (8)
Weight loss in horses is important because high body fat can lead to heat stress, hyperlipidemia, laminitis, poor physical and reproductive performance, and so on. (9)
Our Best Pick
The Manna Pro Calf Supplement contains high-quality ingredients such as carbohydrates, proteins, amino acid, oats, and yeast culture. Yeast culture, which is unknown to many, has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. While it is a perfect addition to your equine’s meals, it offers sufficient calories for weight management and energy production. Moving forward, a single tablespoon of this supplement in your equine’s hay or pasture grass, and it constitutes to being one of the best feeds of a lifetime!
That said, a secret benefit of this calf supplement is that it aids weight loss as well as weight gain. If your mare is gaining weight too slowly and is weak, the carbs and proteins found in this pick are essential. And for weight loss, the yeast culture, amino acids and oats for easy digestion and faster metabolic responses.
Flaws but Not Dealbreakers
This feed contains the best of the best ingredients. However, it contains oats starch which might not suit your mare if she has food sensitivities. The same applies to your mare if she is highly likely to gain weight as starch increases insulin levels aiding weight gain.
Our Best Step-Up Pick
This pick assists all body processes including healthy bones and muscles, intracellular activity, energy levels, immune system, and digestive system. With balanced omega 3 and 6, it offers glucosamine which is good for joints and muscle development in all life stages. In nature, equines consume foods that are fresh and whole in nutrients. The Missing Link Equine Plus Formula is one such pick. It also enhances hoof strength and flexibility to fight laminitis in senior equines. So this line of processed feeds is good for a lot of things that you thought impossible.
Our Best Budget Pick
Such a pick benefits those who are looking to train their equine for riding. These bite-sized treats are healthy and delicious for all breeds. Found in apple and peppermint flavor, the nugget size is easy to chew down and digest. Which makes it perfect for fussy eaters if that’s what you’re dealing with. Similarly, this best feed is of great value since it comes with at least 300 treat feeds in one bag. Manna Pro is a reliable brand for their high-quality animal nutrition mark. Also, they offer amazing wellness supplements like the Manna Pro Apple Trail Nuggets to keep your equine company for a long, long time.
Best Probiotic Feeds
Probiotics are good for maintaining a healthy digestive system. This pick contains live cultures that resist abnormal digestive function. You can add this to your equine’s daily diet to treat diarrhea, constipation, gas, and other discomforts. A small dose of this granule, when mixed with hay or pasture grass, helps in digestion. The best part about these feeds is that they don’t smell funny or taste unusual. So it’s a good choice for fussy eaters too. If your equine is allergic to alfalfa or oats, prescribing this dose can help calm some of the symptoms causing abdominal distress.
Best Prebiotic Feeds
The Horse Guard Equine Supplement is a gut-healing and soothing feed for most horses. Even though it contains both probiotics and prebiotics, it is a specifically formulated prebiotic supplement for you. Containing healthy vitamins and minerals, plus biotin in all feeds, it helps prevent diseases related to digestion and immune health. Another ingredient that makes this one of the best feeds is the powerful yeast as a digestive aid. If you want something that fulfills your equine’s nutritional needs, along with hay or pasture, go for this one.
Best Dewormer Feeds
The Intervet Safeguard Dewormer Pellets are alfalfa based feeds for quick and effective deworming. If deworming your equine is more difficult than you thought, especially when the deworming feed is a thick, greasy paste, you need something quick and dry as a solution. Your mare will digest these feeds immediately. The alfalfa content in each calls for no hesitation and it’s simply as easy as it looks.
Each feeds supply is natural and healthy, much more stable than deworming paste. You can even grind each feed and add it to your equine’s daily diet and it’s done. This pick is good for serving the semi-annual deworming for your equine.
Best Feeds for Weight Gain
The Manna Pro Senior Weight Accelerator comes with ingredients that support both the immune and digestive system. This is specifically formulated for aiding weight gain and energy production in your mare. With high palpable vitamins, omega-3s, and antioxidants, this is the one of the best feeds for most equines. It also works when you have a senior equine who’s underweight and malnourished. Moving forward, you will also find that your mare is eating her supplements right with the help of this feed. You will be thankful for the way it aids digestion and weight gain because of its high protein and healthy fats content.
Best Apple Feeds
The award for a good snack-time treat for most equines goes to the Manna Pro NutriGood Low-Sugar Snax. It is an incredible low-starch and low-sugar formula for healthy treating. So you no longer have to rely on artificial fillers and flavors to treat your mare a good one. The nutritional feeding of this best feeds are protein, fiber, and fats. It contains much less starch and sugar than other apple-flavored feeds.
Best Feeds with Wholesome Grains
Ginger Ridge Horse Treats contains healthy and nutritious grains with GMO-free ingredients. We’re confident that this equine feed is best for most equines. It contains plenty of treats and the seal is sturdy as well as durable. The treats stay fresh for longer so you do not have to worry about preserving them in an air-tight container. Similarly, if you plan on taking them outdoors, the feeds are literally pocket-friendly, which means they don’t attract moisture while you store in your jeans pockets. The multigrain treats are oven baked, nonetheless, making it a hearty feed for anyone with a sensitive stomach.
Best Feeds for Energy
A good supplemental feed for increasing stamina, the Simplete High Performance Horse Guard is specially formulated with vitamins, minerals, glucosamine, pro- and prebiotics, and hyaluronic acid. It’s the best due to its biotin and methionine content. What most high performance feeds miss out on such as a complete healthy joint and hoof supplement, this best equine feed includes. In hindsight, you can mix all kinds of feeds with this one, making it one of the best and most nutritious meals for your mare.
We’ve continued with these picks and we’ve had no issues with any of them so far. The remaining choices that we didn’t consider was only because they lacked a better nutritional profile. We have high hopes for our contenders as they contain healthy and natural ingredients. The results from our testing and consideration were as expected. And that is, consistent, reliable, and 100% efficient. So it’s safe to say that you can go ahead with these picks for improving your mare’s overall well-being and diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Are there any best special horse feeds apart from the basic types?
- There varied categories of best horse feeds are suitable for all types of horses. They offer plenty of vitamins and serve specific purposes if you want. All contain adequate quantity of proteins, fiber, fats, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates for overall well-being. That said, let’s look into some of the most common, yet unique horse feeds on the market.
Haylage holds on to all natural and high-quality, fermented ingredients. As soon as it is harvested, haylage is hay that’s sealed and left for fermentation. This is an important step because all the natural ingredients are preserved and sealed for maximum nutritional boost. You need high-quality haylage for its dust-free and nutrition-dense use.
However, haylage has a shorter shelf life than common hay. It must be consumed within 3 days of opening. Which makes it suitable for younger breeds.
Unlike concentrated mixes, a coarse mix contains peas, oil, vitamins, fibre nuts, molasses, and barley. You will find all kinds of concentrated mixes such as high energy coarse mix, yearling mixes, and more breed specific combines.
Chaff is a combination of grass, alfalfa, straw, molasses, and rapeseed oil. You can feed your equine chaff if you wish to slow down their chewing. This is especially important when your equine has weak teeth. They are high in fiber and offer varied vitamins and minerals. There is a low sugar option also available if you look for it.
Fiber nuts, as the name suggests, are best for increasing fiber intake. This makes it a low starch and low sugar alternative. Plus, unlike other nuts, fibre nuts do not increase heat buildup in the digestive tract. Hence eliminating occurrences of inflammation, stomach bloating, gas, etc.
Fiber nuts can also be soaked in water and make into treats for equines with dental issues.
Linseed, often a best source of energy, is good for weight gain. However, the processing of linseed is dangerous, unless prepared correctly and micronized. So check the label for manufacturing details before purchasing linseed feed.
Milk pellets are feed pellets containing calcium in abundance. It’s good for bones and coat development.
Limestone also contains calcium which is good for balancing out other nutritional feeds.
Soya oil contains omega 6 fatty acids and linoleic acid, which is best for boosting energy levels and weight gain.
Garlic is known for its antibiotic properties which aids the gastrointestinal system as well as the respiratory system. Add garlic treats into your equine’s diet is a best way to boost the body’s antibiotic and antioxidant levels.
Biotin has a similar effect on equines as it does on humans. It is good for cell development, all thanks to its antioxidant properties. On the other hand, it boosts coat and hooves health in equines.
Mint is good for digestion and it takes form into healthy and digestible treats for fussy eaters.
Cod liver oil
Cod liver oil has its health benefits for bone and joint health. It is rich in calcium, sodium, phosphorous, and iron. You can also find Cod liver oil rich in potassium.
Even though this is an unusual choice for many, cider vinegar is good for healthy bones and joints.
Herbs like Devils Claw, Marshmallow Root, Chamomile, Aniseed, Licorice, Rosemary, Buckwheat, etc. are good for boosting your mare’s immune, respiratory, and digestive system. These are the best herbs for aiding the growth of good bacteria in the body. These herbs are generally dried and packaged for consumption. Plus, they can blend in with most types of horse feeds.
Glucosamine comes from glucose and glutamine, which is a common amino acid. It is needed in equine for bones, joint, hair, cartilage, and skin health. Some horse feeds with glucosamine for fighting against age-related degeneration.
Pre- and probiotic
Prebiotics aid the growth of healthy bacteria in the large intestine while probiotics aid the natural gut flora in the small intestine. Both are good for intestinal health for fighting irregular bowel disorders in both young and old equines. (10)
- What are the most common feeding habits to avoid?
- Most horse owners learn from their mistakes when it comes to feeding their companions. But you do not have to follow suit. Here are some common feeding mistakes you can avoid when planning your mare’s dietary needs this year.
Do not overfeed your equine, even if the horse feed is rich in healthy nutrients. Because horses eat in smaller quantities and aren’t generally fussy, overfeeding them is possible. Overfeeding can lead to laminitis, metabolic syndrome, and other digestive irregularities. Not to forget, it leads to weight gain and an increase in insulin content which causes age-related degeneration faster in adult equines.
Similarly, do not under-feed your equine, especially if you want your horse to lose weight. Underfeeding is a problem with senior equines. The same is also true for horses that work too hard on the field. Underfeeding them can lead to nutritional deficiency, lethargy, and other deteriorating factors.
Lack of pasture grass can lead to nutritional deficiency and toxicity. You need to make sure your horse feed has sufficient pasture grass. Most times, it is possible that your pasture grass is overcome with undesirable weeds which makes it difficult for your equine to chew down healthy grass.
Feeding by horse feed volume and not weight is wrong. Measuring your horse feed, especially when its grain is important because to determines the ideal portion based on your equine’s weight. If you go by the volume, you may end up overfeeding.
Adding too many nutrient supplements can cause nutrient imbalance. Most supplements are rich in vitamins and minerals more than anything else. While some vitamins and minerals are healthy for equine, some are toxic. So adding minimum supplements to your horse feed is a good way to boost nutritional absorption without raising toxicity levels.
Avoid feeding your equine garden clippings, meat, moldy hay, bran mashes, and cruciferous vegetables, and cattle feed to your horse.
- Is protein a good source of horse feed for my equine companion?
- One of the major myths about the best horse feeds is that protein is not a healthy source of nutrients. Research suggests that a horse’s body contains 80% of protein. And since it’s present in all of body’s predominant tissues, enzymes, hormones, and cells, its absorption and metabolism in the body is vital.
It’s a fact that as the mare matures, her protein requirement alters. Similarly, feeding a high-protein diet can cause other metabolic diseases. Hence, a balanced and age-specific protein diet is needed for overall growth and well-being. Based on your equine’s activity level and health conditions can you determine the right protein intake on a daily basis.
Protein helps in the development and healing of tissues and muscles. So hard working horses need a higher dose of protein in their daily diet than sedentary equine. (11)
The following chart describes the common protein-rich horse feeds to consider. (12)
|Up to 25%
|Up to 11%
|Up to 13%
|12 to 16%
This chart focuses on various concentrated mixes and their protein content.
|9 to 14%
|31 to 35%
|11 to 15%
|11 to 16%
|44 to 52%
- How much should I feed my horse?
- A well-fed equine has a healthy immune system, a beautiful coat, and great stamina. But what is the ideal amount of best horse feed for one? According to studies, taking care of your mare, that is feeding her, amounts to 75% of the expenditure. This means you need to pay close attention to what you’re feeding your mare and how much.
While underfeeding and overfeeding your mare can lead to nutrient deficiency and weight gain, you need to know this.
- Rationing in terms of horse feed refers to a 24-hour period.
- You can start off by feeding your mare a good quantity of hay and slowly adding half a pound of grains, if necessary. This means half a pound of grains for each hundred pounds of your mare’s weight. You can add half a pound of grain every third day to balance hay and grain consumption over a matter of months.
- During the summer months, it’s important to feed your mare regularly than in the winter months. You can resort to late feeding during the cooler climates.
- Avoid feeding hay before grains. And do not make abrupt changes in diet because horses are likely to go off all types of food and remain underfed for months.
- Always keep clean water out and make sure the water bowl is kept away from the hay.
- To aid digestion and prevent weight gain, make sure your horse exercises regularly.
A horse is capable of consuming 2 and a half pounds of air-dried feeds such as grain, pasture grass, or hay on a daily basis. This is per 100 pounds of their weight.
A light horse, weighing 1000 to 1200 pounds, can drink up to 12 gallons of water daily. During the summer months, horses are most likely to get dehydrated fast. So splashing cool water on thirsty horses is important. (13)
Wrapping It Up
The best pick for equines of all life stages is the Manna Pro Calf-Manna Supplement. After conducting a thorough research on all best feeds, the results of this pick are spectacular. With amino acids, yeast culture, and proteins, it has superb anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Making it the perfect addition to your mare’s hay or pasture grass. It’s a double performing supplement, that is for both weight gain as much as weight loss. So you’re definitely in for a good deal if you go for our top pick on the list.