Beet pulp has a bad reputation that's somewhat undeserved. It's actually a great feed for horses that need to put on weight and require a feed that doesn't make their blood sugar spike and dip. Many owners like feeding it to their horses over the winter as they feel it is a nice change for the horses who eat nothing else but dry hay. It also adds a little extra moisture to the horses' diet and reduces the amount of hay they eat. Distance riders like it for getting moisture into their horses when they are working hard. Beet pulp doesn't have all the nutrients that a horse needs, so it should only comprise a portion of a horse's diet.
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What Is Beet Pulp?
Beet pulp is what is left of a sugar beet after it has been pressed to remove the moisture. The resulting liquid is processed to make sugar, and the leftover pulp is shredded or pelleted and used for livestock and is an ingredient in cat and dog food. Sugar beets don't look like the common garden beet, but like very large, lumpy white radishes. Beet pulp for horses is sometimes mixed with molasses, so it tastes better. Triple Crown Feeds, manufacturers of horse feeds, explains in-depth, what beet pulp is and why it can be a good addition to a horse's diet.
The sugar beet is a root crop that flourishes in temperate climates where the growing season is about five months long. Farms can be found in California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.
Beets are planted in late March/early April and harvested in late September and October. When fully grown, sugar beet is about a foot long, weighs 2-5 pounds, and is about 18% sucrose.
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Is Beet Pulp Safe to Feed?
Beet pulp in its dry form has been blamed for causing colic and choke. One myth is that eating dry beet pulp can cause the horse's stomach to rupture. However, eating too much of any feed can cause colic, and pelleted feed of any kind can cause choke. If your horse bolts its food, you will have to be careful with any form of pelleted or extruded feeds. To slow the horse down, you can soak the feed, put large rocks in its feed tub it must pick around or try a something like a Pre-Vent Feeder. If your horse eats a belly full of beet pulp or any other concentrate, perhaps because it escaped its stall and broke into the feed room, it will be in danger of colic and laminitis. But beet pulp is no less safe than any other feed.
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How Do You Feed Horses Beet Pulp?
Although you can feed dry beet pulp, try feeding soaked beet pulp during the winter months. Mix one part beet pulp to four parts water. If you want to feed quickly, you can use hot water, and it will expand within 15 minutes. Just be sure it's cooled off before feeding. Don't let it sit wet in feed tubs as it will ferment quickly. Ontario Dehy Inc., manufacturers of beet pulp for horses, recommends feeding up to 1.5 to 2 percent of your horse's body weight per day.