Feeding Beet Pulp For Horses Gain Weight

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Keeping your horse at a healthy weight can be a constant struggle because generally, horses gain most of their nutrients from grass and hay. Natural feed like beet pulp for horses sources that can fluctuate in their nutritional quality.  

Also, an increase in exercise, rigorous competition, and excessive cold can also lead to horse’s dropping weight faster than we might realize.  While we can supplement with grain, we need to occasionally add a little more than sweet feed to keep our horses at healthy weights.  

Thus, with what is known as beet pulp, your horse can certainly use it to gain weight.  Beet pulp is a wonderful addition to the diets of an equine to help burn high levels of calories or to those who need to put on some pounds. 

What is Beet Pulp?

Beet pulp is essentially what is left over after sugar beets have been processed.  The pulp is often either dried and shredded or made into pellets, to make it suitable as a food source for horses and other livestock.  Beet pulp feeds intended for horses may contain molasses (Standlee Beet Pulp), but are available without Simple System Purabeet.

What Does Beet Pulp Provide?

Nutritional Value

  • Beet pulp is an excellent source of calories but is low in sugar and carbohydrates, unlike sweet feed or other grains making it a good supplement for sucrose-sensitive horses. 
  •  According to Kentucky Equine Research, it provides approximately 1,000 calories per pound and only has 15% sugar (10% for molasses free versions).

Gut Health

  •  High in fiber and considered a prebiotic, beet pulp is safe and beneficial to introduce into a horse’s digestive system.

Hydration

  • Irrespective of how beet pulp comes, be it dried, shredded or pelleted, it will require a soaking process before feeding it to the horse. The significance of this is that it introduces more hydration into your horse’s diet without diluting the nutritional quality of the feed.  

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Is Beet Pulp Safe for My Horse?  

The most common concerns surrounding beet pulp often centers around the dry status of this packaged forage.  Some get concerned that beet pulp, if unsoaked, will actually absorb liquid from the digestive system, causing dehydration or an overly full stomach.  According to TheHorse.com, these worries are myths, and unsoaked beet pulp will not harm your horse.  Kentucky Equine Research does recommend soaking the pelleted pulp, in order to avoid the risk of the pellets expanding in the stomach and causing discomfort.

Pros and Cons of Feeding Beet Pulp for Horses

Pros

  • Helpful when Hay is unavailable: While hay is the ideal option for a source of roughage that keeps horses healthy and happy, beet pulp is a relatively inexpensive packaged option.
  • Beet pulp can be substituted for hay when you can’t seem to meet up with the desired amount of hay your horse needs.
  • Certain Dental Conditions or Allergies exclude baled hay from an equine’s diet.  Thus, beet pulp can serve as an excellent additional source of calories and fiber, that is easily swallowed and low on dust when soaked. 
  • Fiber-Rich and Gut Healthy: Beet pulp is full of fiber that is necessary for your horse’s energy levels and gut health.
  • Fiber is a huge source of energy for equines, and lasts much longer than sugar spikes, thus making it ideal for sport horses or nursing mares.
  • During the digestive process, fermentation in the horse’s hindgut produces essential byproducts like volatile fatty acids, that increase the overall health of the horse.

Pros and Cons of Feeding Beet Pulp for Horses

  • Suitable for Horse’s with Digestive Challenges: Beet Pulp is a high calorie packaged forage that is packed with calories, but doesn’t over secrete the sugar content like some other high-calorie feeds do.
  • Beet Pulp’s low sugar content makes it an exceptional option for horses with Cushing’s or other conditions, who are sensitive to sugar.
  • Molasses-free beet pulp is an acceptable forage substitute for Alfalfa in horses with HYPP (hyperkalemic periodic paralysis), a condition that affects the horse´s sodium channels
  • If you are considering feeding a horse with HYPP beet pulp, make sure it is Molasses-free as molasses contains levels of Potassium too high for HYPP horses.

Cons 

  • Add Don’t Replace. Beet Pulp is not a supplement for other forages or feeds, and only should be added to supplement calories and fiber.  It is an excellent additional source but does not contain enough nutrients to replace hay or grain on its own.
  • Time. Often recommended to be soaked in both shredded and pelleted form, beet pulp is not the quickest option when it comes to feeding time.  Shreds and pellets can take up to half an hour to soak to a palatable level for equines.  
  • Not for “easy keepers.” If you have a horse or pony that doesn’t require much to keep on weight, beet pulp is likely not the best option for you.  It contains a larger amount of calories that easy keepers are likely already getting in their diets. 

Is Beet Pulp Safe for My Horse?  

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There are many instances where beet pulp can be a great option for your horse or pony.  High in calories and low in sugar and potassium, beet pulp is an excellent addition to the diets. Especially if the horses are “hard keepers,” sport horses in heavy work, and nursing mares. 

It is a phenomenal source of long-lasting energy. And, it is also a very gut healthy for equines. They need to add a little extra element to their diet regimens.  Similarly, I have known some emergency cases of underweight horses and ponies. It has helped immensely in short periods of time.  

However, whenever looking to add or subtract to your horse’s diet, you should consider contacting an equine nutritionist. Also, consult your vet before any changes are made.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to leave them below!

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