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luvs2ride1979 06-25-2009 05:27 PM

The Truth About Beet Pulp
An off shoot of the other beet pulp thread.

Compiled from these links:$departm...sf/all/hrs3243
The Myths and Reality of Beet Pulp - Susan Evans Garlinghouse - written by a vet
Beet Pulp

  1. You do not need to soak beet pulp
  2. It will not cause choke any more than any other feed or grain
  3. It will not expand in the stomach or cause impaction
  4. It does have some nutrient value and protein
  5. It can be a low-energy way to put weight on horse (with beet pulp that does NOT contain molasses)
Contrary to popular belief, while beet pulp can and usually is soaked prior to feeding, it does not necessarily have to be. In fact, in some management situations, feeding beet pulp dry is the only alternative if beet pulp is to be fed at all. Horses consuming soaked beet pulp in hot weather may be unable to finish off a large portion before it begins to sour and becomes unpalatable. Likewise, horses in cold climates may not be able to finish their soaked beet pulp before it begins to freeze. Research conducted at several universities have fed dry beet pulp in amounts up to 45% of the total diet and saw no instances of choke or other adverse reactions.

Although beet pulp, particularly that in the pelleted form, can cause choke, the choke is often in response to the particle size and the horse's feeding behavior, not necessarily due to the actual feed itself. Horses which bolt their food without sufficient chewing, or do not have adequate access to water, are far more likely to choke, regardless of the type of feed, than horses which eat at a more leisurely rate. Efforts should be made to prevent gobbling in these "wolfers"by putting rocks into the feeder or mixing in other feeds such as chaff to slow intake and encourage chewing. In any case, it should be clearly understood that, for whatever reason, some horses are more prone to choking than others. Therefore, decisions to soak or not should be made on an individual basis, taking into consideration whether feeding dry beet pulp is a necessity, the feeding behavior of the horse, and competition from other horses which encourage wolfing. In some horses, feeding soaked beet pulp may be the only alternative.

If you choose to soak it, it is currently recommended to soak it no longer than 1-2 hours, especially in hot weather, as it can begin to ferment. If soaked beet pulp smells sickly-sweet like wine, it has begun to ferment and should be disposed of.

The capacity of the equine stomach is 2-4 gallons, equivalent to approximately 4 to 9 pounds of dry beet pulp. Movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine can vary depending on a number of factors, but as the stomach begins to reach maximum capacity, stretch receptors in the walls of the stomach will trigger the release of motilin, a hormone which in turn stimulates the emptying of the stomach and passage of food into the small intestine, cecum and colon. As the capacity of the gastrointestinal system-approximately 38 to 48 gallons-is more than sufficient to adequately contain even a very large meal of beet pulp (or any other feed), the only horse in danger of a gastric rupture is one suffering from impaction or other severe lack of normal peristaltic movement.

The sugar beet industry is the industry responsible for making table they take the sugar out of the sugar beets and leave everything else, EXCEPT the sugar. What's left is beet pulp.

In fact, most feed companies add a small amount of molasses to beet pulp to make it more palatable to horses and to reduce dust due to the lack of sugar. However, even with this added molasses, beet pulp is still lower in sugar than most other components of your horse’s diet.

Most old-timers will tell you beet pulp has no nutrition, "it's just a filler." Again, science has proved otherwise. Beet pulp is the fibrous material left over after the sugar is extracted from sugar beets. It's an excellent source of digestible fiber for the horse and can be fed in addition to, or instead of, hay. Recent research has shown that the fiber in beet pulp is easier to digest than the fiber in hays. In fact, horses may derive as much energy from beet pulp as they do from oats. In other words, a pound of (dry) beet pulp has almost the same amount of calories as a pound of oats. Because beet pulp provides these calories as fibre (as opposed to the starch in grains), it can be safely fed in larger amounts without the risk of colic or laminitis associated with feeding a large amount of grain. Furthermore, the protein content of beet pulp (averaging 8 to 12%) is comparable to most grains and good-quality grass hays. And, beet pulp also provides a reasonable source of calcium, intermediate between the high calcium in alfalfa and the lower calcium content of grass hays, but much higher than grains.

Whether used as a source of forage or as a replacement for oats, beet pulp is a useful addition to the diet of many types of horses. Beet pulp has been successfully fed at levels up to 50% of the horse's total ration (approximately 10 lbs for a 1000 lb horse). More commonly, owners choose to feed 2 to 5 lbs of beet pulp per day. The high digestibility of beet pulp makes it a good choice for horses that are "hard keepers" (it's very good for encouraging weight gain), as well as horses with dental problems, or older horses who have trouble chewing or digesting other types of forage. Beet pulp is also used as a grain replacement in the diets of horses that suffer from tying up (providing calories as fiber rather than starch). And the low potassium content of beet pulp makes it an ideal forage replacement for horses with HYPP. Finally, endurance riders favor beet pulp because its high water holding capacity provides the horse with a larger reservoir of fluid in the digestive tract that can be used to help prevent dehydration.


Now, I am personally not a fan of using beet pulp. I think hey pellets are a better alternative, but I wanted to put this information out there for those who don't know much about beet pulp and those who are misinformed about it.

iridehorses 06-25-2009 05:34 PM

Good article. That should clear up a lot of the "old wives tails" about beet pulp.

Spyder 06-25-2009 05:35 PM

Beet Pulp safety warning
Beet Pulp Safety Warning (aka the famous squirrel story) - by Susan Evans Garlinghouse


However, eventually I knew the true downside to beet pulp would show up, and thought it only fair that I pass it along...

This afternoon I decided to bring some beet pulp pellets into the house to soak, because I wanted to get an idea of exactly how much they expanded in volume during the soaking process. Academic types are like that, pathetically easy to amuse and desperately in need of professional help. I knew they expanded quite a bit, because the first time I'd innocently added water to a five-pound bucket of beet pulp, I'd come back later to find my feed room practically awash in beet pulp, providing a breakfast that every horse within a five mile radius still remembers with fond nostalgia. So in the interest of scientific curiousity, I trundled in a bucket, about three pounds of beet pulp, added in the water and set it in the living room to do its thing. No problem. Research in action.
Well, in our ongoing quest to turn this house into Noah's Ark, we have not only four horses, three dogs, four neurotic cats, a sulfur-crested cockatoo, a cockatiel and assorted toads, we also have William. William is a fox squirrel who absent-mindedly fell out of his tree as a blind and hairless baby two years ago and whom the vet promptly handed off to the only person he knew silly enough to traipse around with a baby squirrel and a bottle of Esbilac into her bookbag. Actually, the trick wasn't in keeping such a tiny creature warm, fed and clean---it was keeping a straight face and looking as mystified as everyone else when William woke up hungry and started pipping for his bottled like a very small, slightly muffled alarm clock. Invariably, this usually occurred while I was standing in line at the post office, picking up a pizza for dinner or on one memorable occasion, taking a final exam in biochemistry. Being no dummy, William knew a sucker when he saw one and has happily been an Urban Squirrel ever since. And for those of you that think A Squirrel's Place is In The Wild, don't think we didn't try that...his first Christmas, we thought we'd give him his first lesson in Being a Wild Squirrel by letting him play in the undecorated Christmas tree. His reaction was to shriek in horror, scutter frantically across the floor and go try to hide underneath the nearest border collie. Since then, the only way he will allow himself to be taken outside is hiding inside Mummy's shirt and peering suspiciously out at the sinister world.

So much for the re-make of Born Free in San Dimas. So secure is he about his place in the world that on more than one occasion, I've caught him sitting on his fat, smug little bottom, making faces out the windown at our neighborhood (very frustrated) red-tailed hawk---like as not clutching a cashew in one paw and a bit of mango in the other.
Anyway, when I set out the bucket of beet pulp, I may have underestimated the lengths that a young and enthusiastic squirrel will go to to stash all available food items in new and unusual hiding spots. I thought letting William out of his cage as usual and giving him a handful of almonds to go happily cram under cushions and into sleeping dog's ears was sufficent entertainment for the afternoon. After all, when I left, he was gleefully chortling and gloating over his pile of treasure, making sure the cockatoo saw them so he could tell her I Have Almonds And You Don't. So much for blind optimism. Apparently when the almond supply ran out, beet pulp pellets became fair game and I can only imagine the little rat finding that great big bucket and swooning with the possibilities of being able to hide away All That Food. The problem isn't quite so much that I now have three pounds of beet pulp pellets cleverly tucked away in every corner of my house, it's that as far as I can tell, the soaking-expanding-and-falling-apart process seems to be kinda like nuclear meltdown. Once the reaction gets started, no force on earth is going to stop it.

So when I come back from the grocery store, not only do I find an exhausted but incredibly Fulfilled squirrel sprawled out snoozing happily up on the cat tree, I find that my house smells a lot like a Jamaican feed mill and virtually every orifice is crammed full of beet pulp. This includes the bathroom sink drain, the fish tank filter, in my undie drawer, in the kitty box (much to their horror) and ALL the pockets of my bookbag. Not to mention that in enthusiastically stuffing beet pulp into the air holes of the little box that hold live crickets for the toad's dinner, William managed to open it up and free several hundred crickets into the living room. It's not that I mind crickets springing to and fro, it's just that it sounds a lot like an Evening in the Amazon Rain Forest in here. The cats, on the other hand, have never had such a marvelous time steeplechasing after stray crickets back and forth over the furniture, crunching up the spoils of the hunt (which wouldn't be so bad if they would just chew with their mouths closed), and sicking up the more indigestible parts onto the rug.
I simply can't WAIT to turn on the furnace and find out what toasting beet pulp smells like.

The good news is that in case of siege, I have enough carbohydrates hidden in my walls and under the furniture to survive for years. The bad news is that as soon as I try to remove any of this stash, I get a hysterical squirrel clinging to my pant leg, tearfully shrieking that I'm ruining all his hard work and now he's going to starve this winter. (This is despite the fact that William is spoiled utterly rotten, knows how to open the macademia nut can all by himself and has enough of a tummy to have earned him the unfortunate nickname Buddha Belly.)

So in case anyone was losing sleep wondering just how much final product you get after soaking three pounds of beet pulp, the answer is a living room full. I'd write this new data up and submit it as a case study paper to the nutrition and physiology society, but I suspect the practical applications may be limited. Off to go empty the Shop-Vac. Again.

Peggysue 06-25-2009 06:06 PM

water and stomach acid are two different things ... as soon a sa horse starts chew the slavia starts the digestion process

charliBum 06-26-2009 04:58 AM

A friends dog doed fromeating sugarbeet which expanded inside him

and 2L scoop of the stuff makes like 10+L so i think ill keepp soaking, plus the pellets are hard as rock

Peggysue 06-26-2009 08:07 AM

Pellets are suppose to be soaked... shreds do NOT have to be

BUT I do soak to be safe

Nutty Saddler 06-26-2009 08:18 AM

I always like to keep an open mind about new research and other peoples opinions / views - so it makes interesting reading.

The only thiing I can say for sure is that my own mare Ingrid is completly impossible - bordering on the dangerous - if fed any kind of beet in any form. In fact I have 8 equines and I feed beet to none of them.

This dosen't mean that I discount it entirely as a form of feed, just that I don't feed it to mine.

As for the soaking thing - I don't know of any horses that have had colic because the beet was soaked - but I do know a couple that have had colic and the main reason was that it was not.

kitten_Val 06-26-2009 09:56 AM

I actually pour the cup of water even in my pellet/oats mix. It makes nice mash out of it, and both my horses seem to prefer it this way. With beat pulp, frankly I'd just not give it a try to feed dry. Yes, may be it's indeed safe, but... You just never know.

Peggysue 06-26-2009 11:36 AM

I feed everything wet as well kitten but it is a WIVES tail about it expanding in the stomach and causing problems...

teh digestive enezymes(sp) break in down too fast for colic to be an issue.. now I do have one mare that choked on it mildly but she also chokes on alfalfa cubes as welll.

luvs2ride1979 06-26-2009 12:04 PM


Originally Posted by charliBum (Post 336315)
A friends dog doed fromeating sugarbeet which expanded inside him

That's unfortunate about your friend's dog, but dogs and horses have VERY different digestive tracts. Your horse would very likely colic if it ate a sizable amount of dog food. Does that mean your dog food is bad? :wink:

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