What’s the best way to feed beet pulp to my horse? How do I know if he needs it?
Beet pulp is a staple in most horse diets. Many fortified feeds contain beet pulp, and you can even buy it by itself to feed. Beet pulp is a by product of the sugar industry. In some areas of the world, sugar is extracted from sugar beets, not sugar cane. The end result is beet pulp, a handy ingredient in your horse’s diet. You can find it formulated several ways, in pellets, shredded, and even in flakes. You can find it with and without molasses, and some manufactures have even added other vitamins and minerals to their products to create a more balanced food for your horse.
Beet pulp has some great characteristics that work well for some horses:
- High fiber, therefore high digestibility.
- High calorie, which is great for the hard keepers out there or the high performance horse that needs energy.
- Helps in digestion as beet pulp is easily fermented in the hind gut.
- Easy to eat! Horses with dental issues can easily chew beet pulp.
- Low in sugars and starches, which makes beet pulp good for horses with metabolic issues.
- It’s delicious! Beet pulp by itself is a favorite among most horses.
The shredded beet pulp "soup" after soaking in water for about 15 minutes.
BUT…Beet pulp has some downsides, too, which may not affect all horses.
- It’s high in calcium and potassium, which need to be balanced with other ingredients in your horse’s diet. Beet pulp is not a good single choice for your horse’s food.
- Some horses may decide they want to choke while eating beet pulp, although this is more common when fed dry. I like to add water to every single thing my horse eats, just in case. This helps with general hydration as well.
Some other tidbits about beet pulp:
- You may want to soak beet pulp before you give it. Pellets will take longer to get mushy than the flakes or shreds. Don’t soak for too long, in warm or hot weather it may ferment. Bank on at least 15 minutes, longer for the pellets.
- You can find beet pulp with and without molasses. Molasses adds flavor (like a bribe!), reduces dust a bit, and adds sugar. For metabolically challenged horses, skip the molasses and order the No-Mo version.
- While beet pulp is fairly low sugar as it is, you can remove more sugar by soaking, draining, and rinsing the beet pulp before feeding.
Dry, shredded beet pulp. The shreds are actually very small!
Just like every other diet change on the planet, make it slowly for your horse. Start by adding a little bit more every day, it’s fine to take a week or longer to get to the desired ration. You can mix it into your horse’s other feeds if you like. Because beet pulp is higher in calcium, potassium and fairly low in protein and phosphorus, you need to be sure your horse’s overall diet can account for this if you end up feeding more than 2-3 pounds a day. Generally, one pound of beet pulp is the fiber equivalent to one and a half pounds of hay.
Does your horse eat beet pulp?? How do you prepare it for him?