Feeding Beet Pulp For Horses Gain Weight

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?
Everything About Sweet Feed For Hor... x
Everything About Sweet Feed For Horses

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 Horses with Digestive Challenges: Beet Pulp is a high-calorie packaged forage that is packed with calories, but doesn’t oversecrete 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!

FAQs

Can a horse eat too much beet pulp?

Beet pulp is a good source of nutrients for horses. They can use it as a healthy substitute for grains or beet pulp can be fed in combination with grains.
Beet pulp is an excellent food source for horses because it contains vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are essential for their health and well-being. Beet pulp is also low in sugar content - which means horses will not develop insulin resistance like some other animals do when they consume high levels of sugar intake.
The amount of beet pulp that a horse should eat depends on the size of the horse, its age, and how much energy (calories) it needs to maintain an appropriate weight. Horses need about 3 percent of their body weight in beet pulp each day to maintain their weight.
It's difficult to say whether a horse can eat too much beet pulp because it depends on the type of beet pulp it is eating. Beet pulp is usually rich in fiber, so you should be careful not to overfeed your horse on foods that are high in fibers. If your horse has colic or suffers from weight gain, then the chances of it eating too much beet pulp are higher.

What feed helps a horse gain weight?

For a horse to gain weight, their diet should contain both the right amount of protein and have a good balance of carbohydrates.
If you are feeding hay, straw or other roughage as well as grain, then the ration should contain between 1.5 to 2 pounds of grain for every 100 pounds body weight.
A feed that is high in protein will help a horse grow muscle and gain weight.
Some feeds for horses which help them gain weight include alfalfa, beet pulp, carrots, celery, fresh fruits and vegetables, oats, and various feeds that have been mixed together.
Feeding a horse may seem like an easy task at first glance because they're usually very good about eating what's put before them. However, it's not as simple as picking out any old food of your choosing because horses have specific dietary needs that are based on their age, breed, type of work they're performing, climate where they live or are being kept, seasonality of the year, or even competitive disciplines that they participate in.

Can beet pulp be bad for horses?

Beet pulp can have many benefits for horses, but it also has some cons that are often overlooked.
Beet pulp is a byproduct of sugar beet processing which is an abundant resource in the United States. It is a plant-based diet that has been used as a natural source of fiber for horses. Beet pulp is not toxic to horses and can be fed without any problems. However, it should be noted that beet pulp has a low protein content so it can’t be used as a substitute for other feeds.
The main downside to beet pulp is that it has a high-fiber content, so if too much is fed to horses, or they are already prone to colic, they may experience stomach discomfort and digestive issues.
Beet pulp can also create gas in the horse’s intestines, which can lead to colic. Colic is very painful for the horse, and it can quickly develop in a fife threatening condition if not treated quickly enough.