Horses, much like humans, need to consume a wide range of nutrients to maintain proper health, though they must do it with fewer food sources. Foraging for grass and hay will make up the largest part of a horse’s diet, but additional feed is necessary to ensure your horse is getting all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and happy. When fed an incomplete or improper diet, horses can exhibit poor health, weight loss, weight gain, behavioral issues, and more.
No one wants to feed their horse improperly, but it can be difficult to figure out exactly what to feed your horse to maintain optimum health. With so many products on the market, it can be hard to differentiate advertising from product efficacy. We decided to put some of the most popular horse feeds to the test so we could determine which were the best. In the following reviews, you’ll read about how they compared to one and other, and which ones we recommend.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||Buckeye Nutrition Gro ‘N Win Pelleted Horse Feed||
|Best Value||Tribute Equine Nutrition Kalm N’ EZ Pellet Horse Feed||
|Premium Choice||Crypto Aero Wholefood Horse Feed||
|Buckeye Nutrition Ultimate Finish||
|Cavalor Fiberforce Horse Feed||
The 10 Best Horse Feeds
1. Buckeye Nutrition Gro ‘N Win Pelleted Horse Feed – Best Overall
Priced reasonably and made from 100% traceable ingredients, the Gro ‘N Win Pelleted Horse Feed from Buckeye Nutrition is the horse feed we recommend most. It’s crafted to contain a precise blend of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that will help keep your horse in peak condition.
Beyond these great nutrients, you’ll also find that this horse feed is very high in antioxidants that can aid your horse’s immune system. Furthermore, biotin was included to help your horse’s hooves. With just 13% non-structural carbohydrates, abbreviated NSC, this blend has a low glycemic index and can even help reduce hyperactivity.
When you take a quick look at the nutritional info on this bag, you’ll see that it contains 32% crude protein, making it one of the highest-protein formulas we’ve seen. Additionally, it’s high in fiber and calcium, though its fat content is lacking. Overall, we think it’s the best horse feed for most horses, which is why it’s at the top of our list.
2. Tribute Equine Nutrition Kalm N’ EZ Pellet Horse Feed – Best Value
Horses eat a massive amount of food. Aside from grazing all day, they can eat up to 10 pounds of grain each day. As such, it pays to find an affordable horse feed, but one that you know offers your horse the nutrition that it needs. After testing it, we feel that the Tribute Equine Nutrition Kalm N’ EZ Pellet Horse Feed is just such a product. In fact, we think it’s the best horse feed for the money.
The biggest draw of this feed is that it’s more affordable than most of the competition. Plus, it comes in a large 50-pound bag, so you won’t have to buy it every other day. Despite the low price, it’s crafted with quality ingredients, making it high in protein and fiber. What’s missing are corn, molasses, and oats. Dry yeast is added to aid in gut health. The total NSC content is about 14%, so it’s safe for most horses.
It’s made with an optimal balance of minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids. With 8% crude fat, it’s a bit more calorically dense than some blends. However, it’s lacking in essential fatty acids compared to competitors.
3. Crypto Aero Wholefood Horse Feed – Premium Choice
When your horse’s feed uses buzzwords that you find on your food at the supermarket, such as non-GMO and gluten-free, you know it’s a premium product. Crypto Aero Wholefood Horse Feed is a top-notch choice for any horse, though it’s a spare-no-expense type of product as it’s far more expensive than competing offerings.
This is a complete feed solution that can replace grain in your horse’s diet, though they’ll still need to forage and graze. As mentioned, this horse feed is made free of all the things you wouldn’t want in your own food, including additives and by-products. Compared to other horse feeds on the market, the ingredients list of this one is incredibly short. Each ingredient serves a purpose and they’re all quality choices like whole oats, alfalfa hay pellets, and green peas.
When you check the nutrition label, you’ll notice that this food is quite high in omega-6 fatty acids. There are also ample amounts of protein and fiber, with protein being supplied by six major sources. We’re not really wild about the 24% dietary starch, but the dried rose hips are meant to boost immunity and protect cartilage, which we are fans of.
4. Buckeye Nutrition Ultimate Finish
Containing 25% crude fat, the Buckeye Nutrition Ultimate Finish horse feed is a great choice for underweight horses. Because it’s so high in fat, this formula is far more calorically dense than many alternatives, so your horses don’t have to eat as much to meet their intake needs. Basically, they’re getting more calories out of less grain. On the flip side, this means that it can lead to a horse becoming overweight if you’re not careful.
Another benefit of the high fat in this feed is that it also contains very high amounts of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It’s got a whopping 10.5% omega-6 fatty acids; more than any other horse feed we’ve tested. This will help your horse’s coat to shine like never before as it reaches peak health thanks to the extra fatty acids.
Though it’s high in fat, this feed is low in both starches and sugars. Though with 26% NSC total, it’s not low enough for many horses with metabolic problems. It’s a highly digestible feed thanks to the nuggets that offer superior digestibility. Unfortunately, some of our horses wouldn’t eat it, which is why it didn’t break our top three.
5. Cavalor Fiberforce Horse Feed
The Fiberforce Horse Feed blend from Cavalor is a high-quality product that has priced itself out of most budgets. It’s far more expensive than competing products, though it does work to earn that high price tag.
Looking at the nutrition label, you’ll notice that this food contains a very short ingredients list. In truth, it’s the shortest ingredients list we’ve seen on a horse feed label so far. The ingredients included are all high-quality choices, such as flaxseed, ground alfalfa hay, and dried beet pulp. It’s got an adequate amount of protein and an impressive 30% crude fiber.
You’ll also notice that this blend contains digestive enzymes, prebiotics, and probiotics, all designed to aid in your horse’s digestive health. This is an ultra-low NSC blend with a mere 5% starch and 3% sugar. It’s also low in fat reducing its caloric density. Still, it’s a top-quality horse feed. We’re just not fans of the outrageously expensive price.
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6. Tribute Equine Nutrition Essential K Horse Feed
Tribute Equine Nutrition makes their second appearance on this list with their Essential K Low-NSC horse feed. This blend is advertised as being low in NSC and great for horses with health issues like obesity or insulin resistance. However, they fail to disclose the total NSC count anywhere, so it’s hard to determine whether this claim is true.
One thing they do list on the nutritional info is the biotin that’s added to maintain healthy hooves. The protein content is also listed, and at 28%, it’s very high in protein. Additionally, it contains plenty of omega-6 fatty acids, though it’s pretty lacking in omega-3s.
These pellets are low-calorie, so you’re not getting as much bang for your buck. Your horse would have to eat more of this blend than others to get the same amount of nutrition. But it’s ideal for overweight horses as it can help them to lose weight naturally. On the downside, it’s more expensive than other formulas from the same brand, so we’d probably pick one of the more affordable blends instead.
7. Tribute Equine Nutrition Kalm Ultra Horse Feed
Priced reasonably, the Tribute Equine Nutrition Kalm Ultra High Fat Horse Feed is a good choice for horses that are severely underweight and need help to get to a healthy weight. However, it’s not a blend we’d recommend for most healthy horses. It’s advertised as having a low NSC, which is ideal for horses that have ulcers or behavioral issues, but with an NSC content of 23.5%, we wouldn’t classify it as low NSC.
This formula is high in both fat and fiber, which is why it’s great for horses that need to gain weight or workhorses that expend a ton of calories each day. It’s also fortified with dry yeast so it can help to maintain a healthy gut. For horses that need extra calories to maintain or gain weight, it’s a great choice, but healthy horses would be better off skipping this one in lieu of another blend like the Kalm N’ EZ Pellet Horse Feed that earned our best value recommendation.
8. Buckeye Nutrition Safe N’ Easy Senior Horse Feed
Buckeye Nutrition has earned its way onto our list several times already, but the Safe N’ Easy Senior horse feed didn’t impress us. Granted, there were some things we liked, such as the reasonable pricing and supplemental amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. All of these boost the nutritional value of the food without raising the NSC level, which is a maximum of 12%.
But this blend is only intended for senior horses. Considering that, we expected it should be easy to eat, but it’s comprised of oversized pellets that can cause a choking hazard for these old horses. Of course, that relies on horses actually eating the feed. Most of our horses didn’t really seem interested in this feed, though the other Buckeye Nutrition blends were popular with all of our horses.
9. Bluebonnet Feeds Intensify Omega Force Horse Feed
The Intensify Omega Force Horse Feed from Bluebonnet Feeds is a grain-free feed meant to meet the nutritional needs of horses that are in training. It’s supposedly formulated by experts in the equine field to be perfect for horses of all life stages.
In this blend are many health-boosting nutrients, including kelp seaweed, yucca, and biotin. It’s also high in omega fatty acids and low in NSC with just 5% sugar and only 10% starch. Unfortunately, it’s also low in fiber and high in price.
We could overlook the high price if it weren’t for our mold experience. Our first bag of Intensify Omega Force horse feed contained mold. Luckily, we noticed it before feeding any to our horses. There was no mold in the second bag, but there also wasn’t anything about this feed that made us overly-excited to give it a second try.
10. Stabul 1 Equine Diets Horse Feed
It’s always worrisome when a feed bag doesn’t display its nutritional content, and the feed bag for the Stabul 1 Equine Diets horse feed conveys almost nothing. Fiber, fat, and protein are listed, but nothing else. Based on that, this blend is high in fiber but very low in fat, which makes sense since it’s extremely light calorically. Each pound of this feed offers only 1,100 calories, so you’re not getting nearly as much out of each pound.
This blend is made specifically for horses with chronic health issues such as laminitis, colic, or Cushing’s disease. But the long ingredients list leads us to believe it may not be the best choice for horses with pre-existing conditions. And it’s definitely not the best choice for healthy horses. Another minor complaint is the packaging, which is of poor quality. We ordered two bags; one of them was ripped on arrival and had spilled quite a bit of food.
Buyer’s Guide – Choosing the Best Horse Feed
The truth is, your horse would probably remain perfectly healthy while eating any of the feeds we’ve covered in this list. But that doesn’t mean that all of these foods are created equal. Though your horse could be healthy on any of them, peak health will be easier to achieve on the proper fuel. But how do you find that perfect formula for your horse?
In this short buyer’s guide, we aim to simplify the choices by helping you to understand the most important traits that you should be comparing between blends. Once you know what you’re looking for, choosing a feed in confidence will be much easier.
Caloric density refers to how many calories a feed provides per a given amount. For instance, let’s say feed A offers a caloric density of 1,100 calories per pound, while feed B has a caloric density of 1,500 per pound. If you purchase a 50-pound bag of each, your bag of feed B will have 20,000 more calories than your bag of feed A, even though they both contain 50 pounds of feed.
Essentially, a higher caloric density means you’re getting more bang for your buck. But this might not always be a great thing. If your horse is overweight, a feed with a high caloric density could contribute to further weight gain, while a low caloric density feed could help them slim down. On the other hand, an underweight horse or a workhorse that needs to refuel after lots of physical activity will benefit from the higher caloric density feed.
NSC stands for non-structural carbohydrates. Basically, NSCs are starches and sugars, which can cause digestive and metabolic problems for horses when overconsumed. Furthermore, horses with health problems like insulin resistance, ulcers, laminitis, or even hyperactivity can all benefit from eating feeds with a low NSC content. Of course, just because a food is advertised as having a low NSC content doesn’t mean it’s true. Some of the foods we tested were much higher in NSC than the advertising would lead you to believe.
Fat and Protein Content
Protein is essential for many bodily processes, including building and repairing muscle. As such, it’s important that your horse gets a varied and adequate protein intake. Fats are also an important part of your horse’s diet, including omega fatty acids that can aid in coat and joint health. High fat feeds also tend to be higher in calories, so you can get away with feeding your horse less of it.
A horse’s gastrointestinal tract is massive, and it requires a lot of food to stay full. Fiber helps keep your horse feeling full while also offering many calories for your horse. If your horse doesn’t get sufficient amounts of fiber, it can suffer diarrhea, dehydration, and colic.
Volume and Price
Once you’ve found a feed that meets your needs, you have to consider its price. To do this, you must first know the volume of the feed you’re purchasing. Don’t compare a 30-pound bag of feed to the price of a 50-pound bag from another manufacturer. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples by comparing bags of the same size. This is the only way to accurately compare prices between brands. Remember, the more expensive product isn’t always better, though marketing claims might lead you to believe this is so.
There are many horse feeds on the market for you to choose from. They all promise to offer improved health and immunity for your horse, but not all of these feeds are on the same level. Each will provide your horse with a different degree of nutrition. After testing many of these commercial feeds for our reviews, we settled on three that we trust with our horses.
Gro ‘N Win Pelleted Horse Feed from Buckeye Nutrition was our favorite horse feed overall. It’s high in protein and antioxidants, plus, fortified with important vitamins and minerals. There’s biotin in it for hoof health, and it’s made with 100% traceable ingredients.
For the best value, we turn to Tribute Equine Nutrition Kalm N’ EZ Pellet Feed. This blend is high in protein and fiber but contains no corn, molasses, or oats. It contains dry yeast for gut health, and it’s one of the most affordably priced horse feeds we’ve found.
Crypto Aero Wholefood Horse Feed is a complete feed solution with a very short ingredients list. It’s our premium pick because it contains no additives, GMOs, gluten, or by-products, though it has protein from six major sources, boosts immunity, and protects cartilage.
Featured Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay