Last Updated on March 6, 2022
Many people include beet pulp for horses as part of their equine friend’s daily diet, but why is this? Is beet pulp good for horses, and what are the nutritional benefits of beet pulp? Let’s take a look at this versatile and useful horse feed additive!
What Is Beet Pulp?
Beet pulp is actually a by-product of the sugar manufacturing industry. When sugar beet is processed to extract the sugar, there is a large quantity of fibrous material left over. This is then used to create beet pulp for horses.
When you buy beet pulp from the store, you may think it does not look like the normal feed you give to your horse. It is processed into dried shreds, that resemble a certain high-fiber breakfast cereal! It also smells quite odd, but don’t let this put you off.
Beet pulp is actually a very useful addition to your horse’s diet and has many advantages. There are certain precautions that must be taken when feeding beet pulp, but most horses will enjoy this nutritious and flavorsome part of their daily feed.
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How Is Beet Pulp Fed To Horses?
Beet pulp is created by drying out the by-products created when extracting sugar from sugar beet. For many years, feed manufacturers have advised that beet pulp is soaked before being fed to horses, as it was thought that it would swell up once it reached the liquid-filled stomach. There were also concerns that dried beet pulp could swell inside the esophagus, leading to choking.
However, recent studies have shown that horses can be fed dried beet pulp without any risk to their health. They can chew, swallow, and digest this product in its dried form. But many of us still prefer to soak beet pulp before feeding it to our horses, for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, soaked beet pulp is more palatable and easier to chew for your horse. If your horse is suffering from a reduced appetite, then adding warm water to beet pulp can increase the aroma and flavor of this nutritious horse feed.
Adding water to beet pulp is also a great way to increase your horse’s water intake. 1kg of beet pulp can be soaked in an incredible 5 liters of water – that is a huge boost to your horse if he is suffering from dehydration!
Beet pulp can be fed alone, but most horses prefer it when mixed with other types of horse feed. A popular combination is a mix of soaked beet pulp, chaff, and a balanced mixed feed for horses.
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Is Beet Pulp Good For Horses?
Beet pulp has many nutritional benefits for horses. It contains high levels of easily digestible fiber and is low in protein. For most horses, a diet that is low in protein is preferable, unless they are growing or doing high levels of exercise.
These qualities make beet pulp comparable to good-quality hay, and it can be used to supplement the hay in a horse’s diet. However, in terms of balanced nutrition, there are some downsides to beet pulp. This means that beet pulp should not make up the bulk of the horse’s diet, and should only be fed as a supplemental feed alongside another type of forage.
Beet pulp does not have balanced calcium to phosphorous ratio, being high in calcium and containing very little phosphorous. It is low in vitamins A, B, and D. However, if you need a source of easily digestible fiber for your horse, then beet shreds are a great place to start.
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Does Beet Pulp Help Horses Gain Weight?
For certain types of horses, beet pulp can be a useful way to help them gain weight. Beet pulp for horses is high in fiber and digestible energy, but low in protein. This makes it ideal for elderly horses and those in light or no work. Many horse owners supplement the diet with beet pulp as their horse gets older, as it is easier to chew and digest than hay.
Beet pulp can also help with weight gain in horses that have difficulty eating. This soft food can be chewed and swallowed without difficulty and can be fed to horses with dental problems.
Beet Pulp For Horses Summary
So, as we have learned, beet pulp for horses is a highly digestible source of protein, made from the by-products of the sugar manufacturing industry. Most horse owners choose to feed beet pulp soaked in water, although recent studies have shown that it can be fed dry without any problems. Beet pulp is low in protein, making it a good feed for elderly horses.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on beet pulp for horses! Do you always include beet pulp as part of your horse’s diet? Or perhaps you’ve got a fussy horse that hates the taste of beet pulp? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
What Does Beet Pulp Do For Horses?
Beet pulp is a useful form of feed for horses, as it gives a highly digestible source of fiber. It is a useful source of energy for horses, and can be easily fermented in the horse's digestive system.
Beet Pulp For Horses - How Much To Feed?
The amount of beet pulp to feed your horse will depend on their bodyweight and energy requirements. The manufacturers recommendation is to feed up to 0.5kg dry weight sugar beet per 100kg bodyweight of horse. A medium sized horse will weigh around 500kg, so can have up to 2.5kg dry weight sugar beet daily. Most manufacturers recommend that sugar beet is soaked before feeding.
What Is The Fiber Content Of Beet Pulp Shreds For Horses?
Sugar beet pulp shreds are high in fiber, containing around 16%. This is lower than the fiber content of hay, but the fiber contained in beet pulp is more digestible for the horse.
Why Use Beet Pulp For Sand Removal In Horses?
Beet pulp is often fed alongside psyllium to aid sand removal in horses. It can mask the odd flavor and texture of psyllium, making it more palatable for the horse. Feeding beet pulp as part of the main diet can also increase the horse's water intake, helping to maintain the health of the gastrointestinal tract.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE