Can Mini Horses Eat Oats? (Answers From Real Miniature Horse Owners)

mini horse eating oats and hay

Feeding a mini can be a very important matter as they are much smaller then regular sized horses. There stomachs are much smaller and one of the issues is they can colic much easier than other horses. So as we look into what they can eat keep that in mind.

So can miniature horses eat oats? 

Yes you can feed a mini oats although something like sweet feed or pellets will work just fine as well for most minis. You should give about 2-3 cups a day when feeding mini’s oats, but start them off slower with a mix if you are transitioning to a new feed. You can also mix in something like beet pulp if you are looking to keep them from losing weight or to gain weight. 

A lot of people believe in oats because it is more natural then sweet feed and pellets. You will see below there are some mixed opinions on it that is why if there is some kind of health issue with your mini and that is why you are looking at oats definitely ask your local vet before changing.

Don’t just take our word for it though we have gone out and gathered information from different horse owners on this matter to help you better make a decision with oats.

We curated this information from several different forums and sub reddits.

Mini Horse Eating Oats Opinions Of Real Owners

1. Barefoot “Just Add Oats” – if you are going to feed oats, I have heard of a fantastic product my the natural horse vet called ‘just add oats’. I watched some friends horses switch to this from traditional feed and the differance was fantastic. When my suppliments run out I am going to give it a try. I worry about the processed feeds.

I wouldn’t feed oats without a supplement though.


2. H2T99 “You can mix in vitamins and oil” – When I fed oats I had it mixed with the vitamins and oil. Right now since we have moved we have pasture so I am not graining. I was told that oats right now are higher than sweet feed, so I am not sure what we will do when we do start graining!! I did love the way our horses looked on the mix I fed!!

3. Chandab “Stick to just oats” – I would stick with the oats; a lot of basic sweet feeds I’ve seen isn’t the best quality, not to mention I don’t like to feed corn to my horses. At least with the whole oats you can see what you are getting.

4. MyBarakah “Love Whole Oats” – I’m one that feeds whole oats… I also feed shreded beet pulp with the oats… I give mine 1 1/2 Cups beet pulp (measured dry) and 1 1/2 Cups of whole oats….

Depending on the size/condition of your minis also depends on the amount that you need to give them. But I am a HUGE/FIRM beliver in feeding beet pulp and like to use the oats since mine DO NOT need sweet feed and are easy keepers …….. but the show horses get a little bit different feed amount that what my broodmares gets. But I sware on the combination of the beet pulp & oats (together) and would not do it any other way and LOVE the results

5. Buckskin Gal “Vet Highly Recommended” – My vet highly advises using oats…..if she had her way our minis wouldn’t get any other feed besides grass or hay. I too wonder sometimes just what all goes into the feeds that are sold for we don’t always know. I would like to hear more about the diet of oats and is supplements recommended?

6. MiniMore “We feed it” – We also feed oats; oats has always been the favorite grain around here. Our horses have mineral blocks (made-for-horses mineral blocks that they do use) and that is all the mineral supplement they need. We’ve just never been big on pelleted feed, and the majority of our horses aren’t even all that keen on pellets.

7. WLS “Great Selection of oats” – Hello from Ontario. I would suggest you check out the other Purina Feeds as they have an excellent selection. I use Equalizer, but it is indeed just what it says, “vitamins and minerals”. I feed this alone to my mature stallions and mares/geldings. My young horses get Purina Juvenile topped with Equalizer and I swear by this feed for young horses. I have had people come up to me at shows and ask, “what do you feed your horses cause they look so nice”. Then I feed my pregnant/nursing mares (foals too) the new Purina Evolution Maturity. Yes, my husband complains, why do we need three types of feed for 12 horses!! Well can’t feed weanlings and old geldings the same meal plan.!!! Good Luck.

8. Robin “100% Believe in oats” – Hi- All 400 horses here are fed whole recleaned race horse oats. God made oats for horses- not molasses and floor sweepings[​IMG]. We basically feed a 10% protein to all mature horses- oats are approximately 8-9% alone. We add a supplement that is soy base pellet- no molasses, no corn called PNC. It is a 30% protein that we mix with the oats to increase the protein for horses in conditioning/show programs or young growing horses, or underweight mature horses. We have been feeding this for over 15 years.

9. Pondlake Minis “Feed Too 3 of my minis” – Hi, I feed oats to three of my minis that are allergic to molasses. one had been foundered when I got her so she is on oats also. they get 2 to 3 cups aday with beet pulp ( no molasses) and a mineral supplement which is in wisconsin called Equi shine. sorry, but I don’t know what that would be similar to in other mineral supplement. A vet clinic in my area makes it and puts it out.

they keep weight on very well. I feed rolled oats. I use to do the steamed oats which they like much better but it is more expensive and the rolled oats are just as good for a lower price.

Adding Vitamins Or Supplements To The Oats For My Mini?

In our opinion this would be more based on the minis health and age. Do they need extra vitamins or supplements outside of what they are already getting with their forage and oats? May be something to ask your vet but until that we have gathered information on Mini Owners thoughts on adding things to help your mini to oats.

Owners Opinions On Supplements and Vitamins To Oats

1. Farmhand “Mix oats and corn” – We used to mix oats and corn. For both the big horses and the mini’s. Now we use a “sweet feed” mix. I don’t know what all she puts in? My wife mixes it up and tells me who gets how much.

2. Lisa-Ruff N Tuff Minis “Yes” – Yes i use a balance rationer/protien pellet with my oats and beet pulp.

3. Margaret “Yes A Nice Mix” – Yes, I like to mix 10% “Professional Nutrution” to my oats. It has everything that they need in it,as far as suppliments go, and is not cheap, but my horses do very well on it. You can “bump” up the ratio to 16% in breeding season or other stressful times, but for this summer heat right now I find that 10% is good. Also it is best to use “race horse oats” for this… they are a heavier weight and a higher quality. Edited to add: I feed “grass hay” and pasture along with this program.

4. Robin_C “Oats are great but can be lacking” – Oats are a great natural grain for horses. They are, however, lacking in some of the major amino acids (lysine and methionine), and are much higher in phosphorus than calcium (like all grains). Many people who feed straight oats rather than a commercially prepared product like Strategy, Omolene, etc. will:

1) feed alfalfa hay via either a mixed grass/alfalfa like T&A or O&A, or alfalfa cubes/pellets. This supplies some of the needed calcium and protein which is lacking in the oats alone. In all horses (big and small) the calcium:phosphorus ratio is extremely important for good health. In young horses, that ratio is pretty tight at less than 2:1. Adult horses can stand a little more leeway in the ratio, up to 4:1 and some reports stretching that to 6:1. NO HORSE can tolerate more phosphorus than calcium in the diet over the long term. It leads to bony abnormalities including a condition called “big head disease”.

2) mix in a “ration balancer”- These are products that generally contain no grain, but are a protein/vitamin/mineral supplement. They are designed to be added to straight grains, preferably oats, and supply the “missing links” to the oat and grass hay diet. You can also feed some alfalfa with this plan if you’d like. The ration balancer supplies the recommended daily amounts of all vitamins and minerals PLUS the protein/amino acids that the oats and grass hay lack. The oats/ration balancer/mixed hay diet is a popular diet for both big horse and mini show horses. The oats provide weight and energy, the ration balancer provides all the vitamins and minerals and protein for optimum health, and the hay provides the required day fiber. Beet pulp can be used for additional weight control and/or to replace part of the hay in the diet (up to 40%). Ration balancers are generally high in protein (30%), but when fed in proper amounts this is perfectly safe (remember that protein is averaged across the diet — when you are feeding your horse 4 oz of 30% ration balancer per meal, he is NOT on a 30% protein diet!).

If neither one of these plans sounds like an option to you, just be aware that when feeding straight oats you will, at the very least, need to add a vitamin/mineral supplement, and probably a calcium source (alfalfa or even beet pulp qualify) to ensure all your nutritional bases are covered. Adding BOSS and flax are great additions, too, but they won’t make up the deficiency in protein, vitamins and minerals when they are fed in an appropriate amount for a mini.

5. Jean_B “Depends On Horse” – I feed whole oats and depending on the horse and it’s condition, I add either Strategy, Equine Junior, or Equine Senior. I also supplement with a product that is identical to Farnum’s Mare Plus. I also give them pretty much free choice on good quality grass hay.

I do NOT feed any corn. Corn adds a lot of the wrong kind of fat, has very little nutritious value. So what you end up with is animals that are fat but poor muscle condition, etc. As my brother, who is a animal feeds specialist says, “Corn is only good for animals meant for slaughter.” (i.e., hogs & beef cattle)

6. Chandab “Yep a nice mix” – I feed Progressive Nutrition grass balancer to both my minis and my senior half-Arab gelding.

My mini yearling stallion 32″) gets 1# per day of the PN pellets, 1/2# oats and free choice grass hay.

My mini 2-year old filly (chunky 35″) gets 1/2# per day of the PN pellets, no oats and about 5# grass hay per day.

My senior gelding is only getting about 1/2#/day; at this time he is just helping to keep the bag fresh (it takes a long time to go through a 50# bag when only two minis are eating).

Progressive Nutrition grass balancer is fed based on weight of animal, activity level and age of animal. Next year my mini stallion will also be down to about 1/2# of the pellets.

Here’s the link to Progressive Nutrition site.

I really like this product. When I first started feeding it, the filly would not eat eat it, but I think she had been on straight alfalfa and sweet feed and to drop to no-frills pellets and grass hay was quite a shock for her. Now she demands her pellets.

7. Robin_C “again with the facts” – Rather than give you my opinion, I’ll just pass along the facts which are much more important!

1) Whole oats provide the most nutrition as they have not been processed. Any time you heat, crimp, steam, press, etc., the oxidation process begins and the nutritive value begins to drop. This doesn’t mean that crimped oats aren’t nutritious, it just means that they have lost some in the processing. Whole oats are very appropriate for MOST classes of horses. The intact husks provide much needed fiber. While oats are primarily starch, they still are still lower in starch than most sweet feeds. Contrary to popular opinion, when oats are “seen” in the manure, it’s more likely to be the oat husk that you see. Takes a little closer inspection to tell the difference between a whole, undigested oat and the left over oat husk.[​IMG]

2) Of the whole oats, race horse oats or heavy oats are the highest grade. They give you the most bang for your buck. There are lots of lesser grades of oats on the marketplace.

3) Naked oats have no hulls and therefore are more energy dense than whole oats. That’s because they contain much less fiber, so more pure “oat” per volume. They also have more nutritive value for the same reason.

4) Steam, rolled and processed oats are more digestible, approximately 6% according to a Canadian University study. However, to retain maximum nutritive value, processed oats should be used quickly. According to the study, there is up to a 70% loss of protein after 30 days. Processed oats would be a good choice for horses who have digestive or chewing problems, i.e. a very young horse, a horse with chronic colic issues, or an older horse facing tooth problems.

Now for my opinion: For the most nutrition, use naked oats ($$), for the average horse use race horse/heavy oats (that’s what I use), and for horses with issues requiring ease of digestion, steamed or processed oats would be a good choice.

Feeding Miniature Horses Strategy

When it comes to feeding mini’s you need to have a plan and strategy that way you stay consistent and know where to make changes when needed like if they are losing or gaining too much weight.

Simple strategies are the best for all people involved. That way if you leave town or need someone else to feed it will keep it consistent and easy. For minis you want to have a forage based diet just like with regular horses.

Whether that be hay or pasture it will depend on your circumstance. For us it is hard we have great pasture, but our minis gorge themselves so we cycle them in and out and limit their hay intake when in with plenty of water and grain.

Horses do like to eat all the time but can over do it if don’t implement some simple strategies like slow feeding. You can use raise hay feeders so your mini has to work a bit harder to get that hay out and it will take longer for them to go through one slab of hay.

Some people use grazing muzzles and this is up to your discretion. We choose not too even though my husband would like to on at least one of our minis and one our regular sized horses. If you don’t use a muzzle you can take them off the pasture for a bit with a little bit of hay to naw on and keep them busy.

So do mini horses need grain? Absolutely not in most all cases. Do we grain all our minis? Yes we do and that is mainly because we grain all our regular sized horses.

So 1 to 1.5 lbs of hay 2-3 times a day if it is all hay. If you do put out on pasture for allotted times just adjust your hay to fit your mini’s needs.

Key Points

  • Hay/Pasture – their diet should consist of mostly all forage (1 lbs of hay 2-3 times a day)
  • Grain – optional and not needed but can fill some gaps if your mini needs it
  • Slow Feed – slow hay feeders, keep off pasture at times. Use muzzle if absolutely needed.
  • Plenty of water at all times

Mini Horse Losing Weight

If your mini horse is losing weight make sure you don’t make any drastic immediate changes as it can affect your horses healthy greatly. Take a step back talk to your vet and assess the situation. Reasons can vary greatly but here are a few:

  • Worms – when was the last time you wormed your mini. Most horses should be on a worming schedule especially if sharing pasture with other horses and animals.
  • Increase Quantity – sometimes this is all you need to do. They may be a bit more active in the spring and fall months which means burning more calories so increasing feed a bit can help with weight loss.
  • Supplements – sometimes adding something like beet pulp can make all the difference especially in the winter months.

Miniature Horses On Pasture

Minis love being in the pasture just like regular horses. But if they are on pastures all day and night chowing down on that forage it can lead to some health hazards. Some of these include obesity, colic and dental issues. So be careful with your mini give them breaks off the pasture and supplement with hay.

What Food Can Mini Horses Not Eat?

Quantity is a bigger issue with minis then what you feed them. You can feed a mini anything you give to a regular sized horse just in smaller amounts.

Final Thoughts

So as you can see your minis diet is a very critical aspect to your horses overall health. It definitely needs to be taken seriously and a simple strategy should be planned out and executed. Oats can be a big part of that plan since they are easy on the mini’s digestive system.

Other then oats they may need some extra supplements or vitamins depending on your minis health. Something as simple as beet pulp can make all the different in your minis’ diet. Slow feeding a must as your minis are more prone to colic and obesity then a regular sized horse.


I have owned over 50 horses and currently own a small horse farm with 8 horses. I have competed on and off for over 25 years while doing mostly trail riding and cow sorting these days. I write these articles to help anyone out there if you love this article pin it to your Pinterest or Share on other social media platform. Thanks for visiting.

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