Timothy hay cubes vs beet pulp - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-01-2018, 08:24 AM Thread Starter
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Timothy hay cubes vs beet pulp

This is a spinoff of a recent thread by someone asking about nutrition, but I didn't want to highjack the thread so I thought I'd start a new one.

I feed timothy hay cubes, but a lot of people feed beet pulp. I'm always open to change if it benefits my horses! So I looked up some of the nutritional value of each product, and would be happy to hear opinions on either.


Timothy grass hay cubes


Crude protein 8%
Crude fat 1.5%
Crude fiber 35%
NSC 12%

Beet pulp shreds

Crude protein 7.5%
Crude fat 0.5%
Crude fiber 21%
NSC 10%


Numbers are from https://standleeforage.com which is not where I get my timothy hay cubes (mine are from Ontario Dehy, but the numbers are comparable with slightly higher fiber content in the Ontario Dehy product).



It was difficult to find the NSC of beet pulp, but in their FAQ page, they state:



"Is there added molasses in the beet pulp pellets or shreds? There is molasses in beet pulp pellets and beet pulp shreds as a by-product of the manufacturing at the sugar factory. Molasses is added to the beet pulp during the pulp drying phase so it does not ferment. There is only a very small amount of molasses in the beet pulp pellets and shreds, about 3%. Standlee does not add molasses to the product. When choosing which beet pulp product to feed your animals, it is important to look at the actual sugar content. Standlee beet pulp pellets have about 7% sugar and the beet pulp shreds have about 10% of this 3% is from by-product molasses."


The big difference between the two is the fiber content. Beet pulp is easier to digest according to many websites. It provides energy more quickly than hay cubes, which contain long-stemmed fiber that takes longer to digest.



The only benefit mentioned is that beet pulp promoters claim it is good for hind gut health, so that has me very curious. Anyone care to elaborate on that? Does the quick digestion mean better hind gut health? I always thought slow digestion was better.



I'm looking at you @its_lbs_not_miles hoping you'll jump in!
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Last edited by Acadianartist; 06-01-2018 at 08:29 AM.
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post #2 of 8 Old 06-01-2018, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
The only benefit mentioned is that beet pulp promoters claim it is good for hind gut health, so that has me very curious. Anyone care to elaborate on that? Does the quick digestion mean better hind gut health? I always thought slow digestion was better.
No, quick digestion isn't usually better and I don't think the promoters mean beet pulp is better than hay, but rather they often are comparing beet pulp to grain products people feed. If you were to feed a horse beet pulp, which is digested as a roughage/fiber to add weight to a horse versus a grain product, which is at least partially digested in the foregut, the beet pulp is going to give the horse better hind gut health.

"Easily digestible:" take a horse that has difficulty keeping weight on, and someone who is feeding lower quality hay with a lot of indigestible lignin, the beet pulp is going to add more energy to the horse's diet. Also it is more easily digested if a horse has poor dentition and does not need to process the soaked beet pulp as much with the teeth.

Of course long stemmed hay is better when possible, because of other effects such as moving sand through the gut and preventing colic, etc. That indigestible fiber does have a purpose, unless the ratio is so high the horse has difficulty getting calories.

Beet pulp is very low in phosphorus, so especially if you feed alfalfa which is high in calcium, you can throw the calcium/phosphorus ratio off if you feed too much.

In my mind beet pulp and hay cubes or pellets are quite comparable.
If I had a horse with bad teeth, I'd feed beet pulp rather than hay cubes. If I wanted to add weight to a thin horse that could still chew, I'd feed hay cubes or pellets instead. That would be if the horse was having difficulty eating enough good regular hay to gain weight, because he could eat the pellets or cubes more efficiently.

Currently I give my horses a little beet pulp daily, because it is the easiest way to mix their vitamins, some of which are powdered, and make sure they get them all.
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post #3 of 8 Old 06-01-2018, 10:40 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by gottatrot View Post

Currently I give my horses a little beet pulp daily, because it is the easiest way to mix their vitamins, some of which are powdered, and make sure they get them all.
This is why I feed timothy hay cubes. They get 100 g a day each, soaked, and with all their supps mixed in. Works for us, but like I said, I'm always trying to learn new things and nutrition fascinates me, so I'm trying to figure out why people prefer beet pulp.

Sounds like the two are fairly comparable, but that depending on the horse's requirements, physical condition, etc., there might be good reason for choosing one over the other.
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post #4 of 8 Old 06-01-2018, 11:11 AM
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My understanding was beet pulp has more calories per equal weight of hay cubes, so it's an easy way to get more calories in.
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post #5 of 8 Old 06-01-2018, 11:20 AM
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My understanding was beet pulp has more calories per equal weight of hay cubes, so it's an easy way to get more calories in.
Kind of, but beet pulp has around 1,000 calories per pound and depending on the hay, anywhere from 800 to 950 calories per pound. Most people are feeding one or two pounds of beet pulp or pellets, so that's less than 500 calories, a small difference to a horse.
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post #6 of 8 Old 06-01-2018, 05:07 PM
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I use British Horse Feeds Speedi Beet now that I can get it in the US. It takes just 10 minutes to soak and its really good quality compared to some others on the market
They don't add molasses to it.
I have tried the grass cubes and found them way too much of a hassle to get them to break down to a consistency that I felt happy with (choke risk), the grass pellets soak down OK but the end result is too mushy so nothing for the horse to chew on and could even be a choke risk if they got too big a mouthful.
The soaked beet pulp is just about right though I always mix chopped forage with it.
Its the pectin content that helps with ulcers as its a 'buffer'
The analysis is:
Dried, plain beet pulp.
Crude Protein (min) 10.0%
Crude Fat (min) 0.7%
Crude Fibre (max) 16.0%
ADF (max) 25 %
NDF (max) 40 %
Starch (max) trace %
Sugar (max) 5.0%
Calcium (min) 0.7%
Calcium (max) 1.1%
Phosphorous (min) 0.1%
Copper (min) 3.0 ppm
Selenium (min) 0.06 ppm
Zinc (min) 19 ppm
Vitamin A (min) 20 IU/lb
Betaine 50 mg/kg
Iron 762 mg/kg
Non Starch Glucose 1.0%
Pectin 20.0%
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post #7 of 8 Old 06-01-2018, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jaydee View Post
I use British Horse Feeds Speedi Beet now that I can get it in the US. It takes just 10 minutes to soak and its really good quality compared to some others on the market
They don't add molasses to it.
I have tried the grass cubes and found them way too much of a hassle to get them to break down to a consistency that I felt happy with (choke risk), the grass pellets soak down OK but the end result is too mushy so nothing for the horse to chew on and could even be a choke risk if they got too big a mouthful.
The soaked beet pulp is just about right though I always mix chopped forage with it.
Its the pectin content that helps with ulcers as its a 'buffer'
Now see, that's the sort of thing that might persuade me to switch since Harley has ulcers. And for the record, Standlee doesn't add molasses to their beet pulp either, but claim it is a residual product that is already in the beet pulp when it is processed.

I'll have to find out what I can get locally for beet pulp and what the nutritional analysis might look like.

Thanks for providing another piece of the puzzle!
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post #8 of 8 Old 06-03-2018, 04:04 PM
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There will be some sugar retained in the beet pulp after processing to removed the bulk of it but for that to turn into molasses there has to be some cooking at high temperatures involved - molasses is made by boiling the juice after extraction. Only hot water is used in the extraction process.
There are some molasses free sugar beet brands on the market in the US but I found all the ones I'd used to be dusty, 'bitty' and in many cases they contained a lot of grit and even some small stones.
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