Sweet feeds, pelleted feeds, textured feeds, concentrate mixes, processed mixes…many novice (and seasoned) horse owners are confused over what these feeds are, the purposes they serve, and which horses benefit from them. Read on to learn how you can separate the wheat (or grain) from the chaff to see what is right for your horse.

Sweet Feed

Sweet feed–also known as textured feed, textured concentrate, and concentrate mix–is a grain-based horse feed, sold by the bag and formulated to be readily consumed by the horse, says Gary Heusner, PhD (equine nutrition), associate professor and extension horse specialist at the University of Georgia. "Sweet feed is primarily composed of grains (usually oats, barley, or corn), a supplemental protein, minerals, and vitamins, with relatively high levels of molasses."

The grain is whole or coarsely crushed and is plainly visible and discernible in the mix; the supplement is usually in pelleted form. Grains might be listed by name (i.e., oats) or simply as "grain products," in which case the consumer doesn’t know what grains are present in the mix without visually inspecting the contents. The tag also lists the minimum levels (in percentages) of crude protein and crude fat, and the maximum level of crude fiber.

The molasses improves palatability, reduces the depth (bulk) of the feed, and, if added in liquid (wet) form, makes the feed a little sticky, thus preventing pellets from settling or being sorted out and ignored by the horse. Notes Judy Marteniuk, DVM, associate professor of equine medicine and extension at Michigan State University, "F