How Much Sweet Feed To Feed A Miniature Horse?

mini horse eating sweet feed

If you have regular sized horses there is like a 50/50 shot you are feeding them sweet feed. We have done so in the past and the horses absolutely loved it. It can create some issues with older horses or people say it can cause them to have too much energy. Which can be a bad thing I guess if they are in their stalls more then pasture or have no way of burning it if not getting lunged or ridden.

Outside of that we don’t see any problems with sweet feed or feeding pellets whatever you or your horse fancy. But when it comes to mini’s you do have to be a bit more careful since they are much smaller and have been known to have problems colicing.

So how much sweet feed to give to your mini horse? 

If you ask around this can vary quite a bit but the general consensus is around 1lb a day so a 50lb bag will last you around 50 days making it very cheap. Using something like Omelene 200 14% sweet feed is fine or something comparable. 

Even though it is very cheap to feed mini’s sweet feed just make sure you don’t over do it as they can put on weight in a hurry we know this from experience. We will explore other things to feed and not feed your mini along with the opinions of real miniature horse owners answers on their take on sweet feed.

How Much Should I feed My Miniature Horse?

You mini horse doesn’t eat much at all compared too a regular sized horse. Basically a one acre pasture can have up to 5 minis on it depending on where you live but around that.

If you don’t have any pasture around 1-1.5 lbs of hay a couple times a day should be enough. So 2-3 lbs total.

If you are feeding sweet feed around 1lb a day of sweet feed is fine. We tend to grain at night or late afternoon and do so at about the same time everyday.

Also remember to have plenty of water for your mini around 3-5 gallons a day more if needed like during hot temperatures.

Feeding Sweet Feed To Mini’s: Opinions Of Real Miniature Horse Owners

Although we love minis we don’t want you too only take our word for it on sweet feed recommendations. So we went out and gathered information from different forums and sub reddits to get horse owners opinions to you.

So we curated these answers only made some corrections to grammar/spelling when needed but the answers remain the same.


 1. MiniMomNC “Feeding It For 15 years” – I have fed Omelene 200 to both big horses and minis for over 15 years, I have never had a problem with it and have shown horses to major wins. All of my horses love it.

2. Nathan Luzcz “Use Properly” – Any feed can be bad, used improperly. Sweet feed is perfectly safe when fed properly. My big stallion has been eating sweet feed his entire life, and he’s never been “hot” or phsyco. It does contain a lot of sugar, so it can rot their teeth. But in general its just fine[​IMG]The little one hasn’t ever had sweet, he doesn’t need it. The big one doesn’t either, but that’s what he got when I bought him so I didn’t change

3. MiniMor “Fed For Years With No Issues” –  Many people insist that sweet feed is evil because of the molasses content–it’s very high in sugar and therefore is no good for any horse that is IR or has cushings. Anti-sweet feed people will insist that sweet feed actually causes horses to become IR or to get cushings, and they say that if you’re feeding sweet feed, you are going to kill your horse…as your friend is doing.

We fed sweet feed for years with no ill effects. We have only ever had one horse with cushings, and I don’t believe that particular horse ever ate enough sweet feed to cause him any harm. He surely isn’t one that was on sweet feed long term. I know other owners that have never fed sweet feed and have several IR and/or cushings horses. In the years we fed sweet feed we never had colic in any of our horses so I’m afraid I don’t believe in the sweet feed=colic.

Some people will tell you that you MUST feed pelleted feed. Others will tell you that horses do just fine on plain oats, as mine do. Some people insist that alfalfa is the most awful horse feed ever, while others say that alfalfa is the best thing for their horses. Some owners swear by beet pulp; others won’t use the stuff. I do know you’re not the only owner out there feeding sweet feed to their horses, and horses aren’t dropping off like flies because they ate sweet feed.

Around here I don’t know of any cattle owners that buy sweet feed for their cattle; sweet feed is marketed as horse feed. Cattle have their own feed mixes.

4. Relic “12% Is Great’ – Here we feed 12% sweetfeed as a ration.. l have it made up at the local feed plant without a lot of corn in it and all the mares get that all winter along with there free choice hay in spring they get switched over to big fat clean oats. l don’t think l’ve ever killed a mare yet with sweetfeed. Stallions yearlings and weaners are on a complete feed year round. Preg mares don’t get a mare/foal feed till 8 weeks before foaling and stay on that till babies are weaned.

5. RabbitsFizz “Works Fine” – I fed what you call “sweet feed” and what we call “Mix” for years with no ill effects at all.

I now feed my own mix with no molasses but that is an economical thing, not a health issue.

I also feed molasses Beet Pulp- I remove the molasses in summer but not in winter as I think they need it.

Sugars are not necessarily evils, but , as Nathan said, all feeds can be bad if fed incorrectly.

6. MiniLover2006 “Can Be Bad” – Like what Nathan Luszcz said any feed can be bad, used improperly. We feed 12% sweetfeed to our horses a big one and 2 little ones and they are doing great on it. My 34 yr old gelding has had sweet feed all of his life and maybe some Equine Senior but he lost weight on that feed….anyways measure how much you give them and learn from others on this board and do lots of research!

7. Leanna “Each Horse Is Different” – I fed it when i was first starting out and i wasnt to impressed with it. I think some horses do okay on just oats or sweetfeed and are easy keepers. I just dont trust the stuff to much.

8. Lisa-Ruff N Tuff “Plenty Of Horses Do Just Fine” – many horses get sweet feed and there are also some pelleted feeds with large amounts of molasses.

There are plenty of horses all over the country eating this on a daily basis and doing just fine. You will find most people tend to be very passionate about there feed programs sure thier way of feeding is so much better then others however the bottom line is not one way of feeding works for every horse.

I personally dont feed it simply cause it tends to get bad faster in the summer in the heat and freezes up in the winter so for ease I feed a pelleted feed

9. Lauralee “Nothing Wrong With It” – Sweet feed is a traditional good ol staple for feeding horses. There is nothing wrong with feeding sweet feed, if done correctly.

I will say, however, that feed products have come A LONG WAY BABY and there are much more better feeds on the market, IMO, than the old 12% horse and mule.

Granted, you’ll pay the price, but if you want improved digestability, better nutrient content, vitamins/minerals, bloom in the coat, and superior body condition, you may want to make the switch.

10. KenBen “Crushed Oats With Molasses” – I feed my minis crushed oats with molassis. They like it very well. Whole oats is a bit of a waste to me as the minis don’t break all the oats down and as a food source it gets wasted. I have never had a horse not like molasses.

11. Matt73 “Showing Or Jumping For sure” – When I was showing hunters and jumpers, everyone was feeding sweet feed -along with needed supplements-. Like everyone has said, the sugar can be bad and also the corn. Unless a horse or mini or any pony/horse is working those starches/carbs off, there’s no point in feeding it. And because most minis -not all- are fairly inactive, why feed it to them? There is my “2 cents”.

12. HossCrazy “Never Had Problem” – I never had a problem with sweet feed until my senior mare showed signs of Cushings/IR (insulin resistance) and by the time the symptoms showed, as a result of the sweetfeed (A&M, as well as Purina Equine Senior), she had full blown laminitis with coffin bone rotation in both front hooves (6 and 8 degrees). Even though I pulled her off the sugar, the damage was done.

I have 2 of her offspring and I refuse to take a chance with any of my horses. They are all on low-carb, low sugar feed: soaked and rinsed grass hay, timothy pellets, LMF Lo Carb Complete and Triple Crown Low Starch. No apples, no carrots – they get celery for treats which they love.

13. KayKay “Anti Sweet Feed” – most people here know i am anti sweet feed[​IMG]with so many great feeds out there to feed horses now there just isnt a good reason IMO to feed it. Years ago there were not near as many choices of horse feed. And years ago not nearly as much was known about horse nutrtition. Not all sweet feeds are created equal there are better ones and worse ones.

Sweet feeds in general are a lot of carbs and sugar. Very much like candy bars. Will candy bars kill your kids?? no. But are they good nutrition?? No. They are in general empty calories with very little nutrient value.

Horses LOVE sweet feed because horses love sugar. Just because they love it and will do pretty much anything to get it doesnt make it a good feed.

Now im NOT saying sweet feed will kill your horse. Many horses do okay on it. But almost all the horses I have seen on it do not have the “bloom” that a better feed puts on a horse. Usually people who feed sweet feed end up adding a lot of supplements. IMO why do that when you can just feed a better feed that already has beet pulp etc in it??

Im all for keeping feeding as simple as possible. I dont want to sit and measure and add this and add that.

I did lose a mare that got in the grain bin and ate sweet feed. She did not eat a lot but it was enough to kill her. The problem is that sweet feed ferments (because of the high sugar and carbs) in the stomach and then poisions the blood (septicemia)

Back then I didnt know all of this and losing her was what put me on a quest to find out all I could. I picked the brains of every veternarian i could and the university of illinois who had done numerous studies at their equine center on equine nutrition.

I have helped quite a few new people on how to feed. Usually when I meet them their horses lack bloom and are underweight. Once they get the horses off the sweet feed and onto a better feed they are just amazed at the results.

Just to clarify I do like complete feeds but I do not think that is the only good way to feed. Also you have to take into account what type and quality of hay you are feeding. Many people overlook the hay and that is so important!!

Final Thoughts

As I stated we have used mini horse sweet feed and mini horse pellets previously and had no issue. We switched from sweet feed to pellets with all of our horses only because the minis were getting into the regular horses sweet feed almost no matter what we tried. So we switched to be on the safe side because if they over indulge in lower carb pellets it won’t cause as much harm as sweet feed (in our own mind anyway).

We up the starch in the winter time with the pellets. If you are going to change you mini make sure you do it slowly not to cause any digestive issues.

Related Questions

How Much Beet Pulp Should I feed My Miniature Horse?

Beet pulp can be a great part of a mini’s diet. You should be using 1lb or less (dry weight) of beet pulp for your mini. You can work your way up to this amount and you may need less if you see them putting on some weight. Beet pulp is a great addition to get those extra calories without adding risk to coming down with colic in minis.

Do Miniature Horses Need Grain?

Mini’s just like regular sized horses do not need grain unless they are working extra like showing or being ridden frequently. Outside of that no it is not needed but can be a cheap expense to satisfy your mini and also fill any gaps in their diet. Obesity and colicing can be a big issue in minis so make sure to keep them at a healthy weight throughout the year.

Can You Feed Alfalfa To Mini Horses?

Alfalfa is almost never needed with mini horses as they put on weight pretty easily. With alfalfa they may be more prone to obesity so it is best to keep them on grass hay at about 1-1.5 lbs twice a day. If you are working your mini quite a bit maybe adding some alfalfa in isn’t a bad idea or to keep weight on in the winter time as well. There are better alternatives though like beet pulp.

Feeding Oats To Miniature Horses?

Can Miniature Horses East Carrots?

Yes you can feed carrots to your mini as they contain 80% water and little sugar. But that little bit of sugar can add up so do so in moderation. Something like one carrot a day isn’t going to cause any ill affect for a healthy mini.

How Much Space Does A Miniature Horse Need?

A mini doesn’t need that much space anywhere from a half acre to an acre is plenty for a mini. Most peoples lawns are great for mini horses which is why we love turning ours out to help with the lawn mowing. But 1 acre can sustain up to 5 miniature horses so they don’t need much space. Also they need less space in their stalls then regular sized horses around 6X8 feet is fine bigger is better though.



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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