Feeding beet pulp to horses

Beet pulp is a pelleted form of horse feed that can be found at feed stores across the country.  What makes beet pulp such a wonderful addition to your regular feeding program is unlike other supplements  it can used as a hay replacement for at least half of your horses normal hay ration.

For horses that are sensitive to dust and mold found in hay it is a lifesaver.  Older horses, horses with dental problems or horses that are just hard keepers will also benefit from the addition of to their diet.  However, beat pulp is not just for horses that have difficulty with hay or oats, it is economical, it is easy to store, it is compact making it great on road trips, there is zero waist when feeding it and once a horse learns to eat it, they love it and thrive on it!

How beet pulp differs from grains and other supplements

  • Beet pulp provides energy in the form of fibre the same way hay does
  • This differs from grains, such as oats, barley or corn, and other grain based pelleted feed.  These feeds provide calories in the form of starch, for this reason they are fed as supplements in limited quantities to avoid causing problems like colic and laminitis (founder).

Beet pulp pellets are made during the process of making sugar for human consumption from sugar beets. The pellets that I feed to horses are made from the pulp of the beet after the sugar is extracted.

Beet pulp provides an excellent source of digestible fibre for horses; in fact some recent studies have found beet pulp fibre to be more digestible than the fibre in hay.  For comparison: I pound of beet pulp will provide an equal amount of energy to 1.5 pounds of hay. When compared to oats it is about equal with the added benefit that it can fed in large quantities unlike oats.

The protean content of beet pulp will range between 8-12 % which is a little higher than timothy hay and a little lower than Alfalfa.

How to feed beet pulp to horses

Beet pulp can be fed to horses both in dry form or soaked in water.  The most common way to feed peat pulp pellets is to soak the pellets in water for a minimum of a few hours before feeding.  For many years in was believed that soaking the pellets was necessary to prevent the pellets from swelling up in the horses stomach causing it to rupture of swelling in their throat causing choking.  Research has show that the dry pellets pose no health threat to the horse and may be fed dry with no ill effects.

Although not a requirement, I choose to soak our beat pulp pellets before I feed them.   My experience has shown that the horses simply prefer them soaked and that is the primary reason I do it. Another convenient aspect of soaking the pellets is it allows me to easily add supplements.  I add vitamins or mineral when I add the water mixing it all together, this way I can be sure they are eating them.

Soaking the pellets will transform the pellets from a hard material to a soft mash after a few hours.  When soaking the pellets you will need a minimum of 1 gallon of water for every gallon of beat pulp.  Just place the pellets in a pail and cover them with as much water as the pellets are deep.  For example: for 1 inch of pellets add water until they are covered by 1 inch of water.   I just start the pellets soaking for the next feeding when I have finished the current feeding.  They can sit soaked for 12- 24 hours without spoiling.  I would advise against feeding it if the mash had been sitting for 36 hrs or more as it will start to mold

Like all new things it will likely take a few days for a horse that has never had beat pulp to get used to it.  When introducing it I usually start by soaking about 1 lb of pellets.  Once the water is absorbed, I mix the mash with some oats or something that I know they like to eat.  It usually only takes a few days and they gobble it up even when it is not mixed with something else.  Once they have learned to eat it, you can reduce the quantity of their other rations while increasing the quantity of beat pulp until you reach the level you want in their diet.

Just remember for every 1.5 lbs of hay or 1 lb of oats you take away from their diet add 1 lb of beat pulp (measure weight dry before you soak it in water).  For easy reference if you don’t have a scale handy:   1 Gallon of dry beat pulp pellets is approximately 6 lbs.

How much beet pulp should you feed your horse?

You can supplement anywhere from 1-10 lbs of feed in your horses diet with beet pulps pellets.  Many owners choose to feed 2-5 lbs as part of their horse’s diet.

The following is a typical diet I use:

  • 6 lbs of beat pulp pellets
  • 3-4 lbs oats
  • 10-12 lbs of hay
  • Liquid vitamin or granulated minerals as per manufacturer’s instructions

I have fed horses that are sensitive to hay dust the following variation of this diet:

  • 9 lbs of beat pulp pellets
  • 3-4 lbs oats
  • 5 lbs of lentil screening pellets
  • 5 lbs of dust free hay
  • Liquid vitamin or granulated minerals as per manufacturer’s instructions

The 5 lbs of hay I fed with this diet could be supplemented with hay cubes for a horse that could not tolerate any type of hay in their diet.

The quantity of pellets you choose will likely depend on the needs of your individual horse and availability of beat pulp pellets compared with other feeds.  I would recommend experimenting with your horse to determine how well they like and adapt to beat pulp.  If we listen they can often do a very good job of telling what is working.

In summary, I find beet pulp both an excellent and economical food for my horses that can be safely fed in large quantities like other forages.  Its compact form makes it the perfect food to travel with and the fact that it is dust free has improved the quality of life for my horses that have issues with dust and hay molds.

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4 Responses to Feeding beet pulp to horses

  1. health says:

    It’s actually a cool and helpful piece of information. I am happy that you simply shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Martin says:

    Thanks for the helpful information this is exactly what I was looking for.

  3. Cara Lanski says:

    I have had sooooo many problems with my horse this.month, he has been loosing weight, up”d his hay to 30 lbs a day with two scoops (the general feed scoops in live.stock.stores) twice.daily, he.mildly.colicd tonight…. is this too much? Hes a.tall horse.16.1 bit skinny and narrow

  4. Leanne Jarvis says:

    We have a retired thoroughbred race horse, which we have a hard time keeping weight on her. I am just staring to feed beet pulp and bran with master feeds finishing touch. I am just not sure how much beet pulp to give. Please if you can help me out that would be wonderful.