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Why feed beet pulp?

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  • Why feed beet pulp?

    Just wondering - what is the purpose of adding beet pulp to feed? It doesn't seem to have a lot of fat, but I've seen people add it for horses that need to put on weight. I've fed it, soaked, as a yummy treat added to the grain, but really, what is its useful purpose?
    Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it ~ Goethe

  • #2
    Why indeed. Unfortunately many people feed beet pulp because it is cheap to feed. Especially barn owners who add a little cheap grain, and mix it up. Not good for a lot of horses.

    I've been told by people who worked at barns located in cold climates that it is used in winter to keep horses hydrated and to help prevent colic. People everywhere have told me they've used it to get water into horses, in heat and in cold.

    Beet pulp does have its place. But too often at barns where I have boarded, it was used because it is cheaper than grain. Not a good reason to use it, I think. I have used it when I wanted to get more water into my horses. And I've used it when I wanted my horses to lose weight. But the nutritional value is low. I've seen complaints on Coth where people say that it's in short supply, and that the price has gone up. Good. Maybe now people will use it for the right reasons instead of just because it is cheap.


    • #3
      It's added fiber and is easy for the horse to digest that's why it's good for putting on weight. Beet pulp might be cheaper, but it's a good staple IMO.
      Boyle Heights Kid 1998 16.1h OTTB Dark Bay Gelding
      Tinner's Way x Sculpture by Hail to Reason
      "Once you go off track, you never go back!"


      • #4
        Fat isn't the only way to put weight on a horse. If a horse isn't getting enough fibrous roughage products, you'll be chasing your tail trying to put weight on him with fat.

        There's plenty of good things about beet pulp-- it's a palatable source of long-stem fiber, it's high in calcium, it's low in starches, and it's easily digestible.

        I think it earned it's reputation as a "weight gaining" food for hard-keepers because in many barns, people feed too little hay and too much starchy grains. In those instances, the extra roughage and high digestibility of beet pulp can be beneficial for the horse overall. Also, senior horses with compromised dentition often benefit greatly with the addition of beet pulp for the same reasons.

        If your horse is already getting adequate amounts of forage and is still underweight, beet pulp sometimes doesn't help much. That's when you want to turn to your more calorie-dense products, like fat.
        Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


        • #5
          Beet pulp is great for the really senior citizens who have lost teeth and may have trouble chewing/grazing. Soaked, it provides a palatable, easy to eat source of fiber. I kept a 30+ with about two teeth going for 3+ years on soaked beet pulp, with soaked alfalfa, hay stretcher and senior feed added in.


          • #6
            It has no appreciable fat content, it isn't particularly high in calories (as compared to a decent senior feed) especially when you consider how light a scoop is compared to a scoop of senior grain (calories are by weight, not volume), but it is a good source of fiber and there are still good reasons to feed it.

            I feed my easy keeper beet pulp since he only gets a half scoop of grain a day. It works out well that he gets grain in the AM and a light half scoop of BP in the PM. He actually thinks he's getting food (might be a 1/4lb of bp in a half scoop - it's next to nothing calorie wise). But it makes him happy and it makes me happy since I can feed both of my guys outside when I turn them out for night turn out (and he has something to occupy his time while the older boss horse eats his dinner).

            The older boss horse gets a 1/2 - 3/4 scoop of bp added to his dinner in the winter. In his case it's a little extra calories and a little extra fluid, both of which are useful for him when they switch to day t/o, cold weather and the less optimal drinking patterns that come with winter/sudden temp changes.

            But I do laugh a bit when I see people feed it for the calories/putting on weight. It's a bit like using veggies versus bread to add calories to a human diet. You have to eat a lot of veggies to equal one slice of bread.
            Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


            • #7
              Yes but bread is high in starch v. veggies... People add it to put on weight because it works.
              Boyle Heights Kid 1998 16.1h OTTB Dark Bay Gelding
              Tinner's Way x Sculpture by Hail to Reason
              "Once you go off track, you never go back!"


              • #8
                I feed beet pulp to horses that need weight so I don't have to feed more grain then what a horse should have. It has more calories then hay but doesn't have as many as grain. It adds fiber. It works well for teeth issues.

                I feed it when necessary because it works for us.


                • #9
                  I'm not going to repeat what is mentioned above. It is a low starch high fiber feed that works great when added to a balanced diet.

                  I have a mare that I couldn't keep weight on, I tried everything. Senior feed, free choice alfalfa, weight supplements, fat supplements, etc... nothing worked and I was feeding her the max that she would eat. She was still scrawny and ribby. Then I tried beet pulp and *poof* her topline and rump filled in without getting a gut on her and she looks a million bucks! I cut out all the extra supplements and had to cut back her grain. I could actually manage her nutrition instead of pouring everything at her in an attempt to make it work.

                  Here is a picture taken of her a few weeks ago. She's got a 4 month old filly at her side that is still nursing and growing rapidly. She's also 18+ this year. I'm thrilled at how she looks! She gets zero hay at the moment, has access to great pasture 24/7, her and the filly share feed and gets fed 2x day 1/2 scoop dry beet pulp (I soak it but measure it while it's dry), 3/4 scoop Structure (similar to safe choice, it's a low starch high fat feed), and 1/2 cup of calf manna (only because she isn't getting hay). Don't flog me for not weighing my feed, I adjust it as needed to their body condition. I've cut her back because she's getting too heavy, she's old and arthritic with bone spurs and old tendon/ligament issues so I try to keep her lighter. But beet pulp has made all the difference in her, it's the only thing I've been able to use to get her to 'bulk up' without getting hot.

                  We also got a rescue horse 4 weeks ago, she wasn't emaciated but I'd put her at a 2+ on her body condition. I'm pouring the feed to her as safely as I can and she's gaining weight quickly. Her ribs have almost filled in and her rump isn't sunk in like it was. You can see layers of muscle developing. Do I give full credit to beet pulp? No, but I doubt I'd see this quick of a change if I was only feeding grain and free choice alfalfa with access to good pasture.

                  Some horses will only eat so much hay, and you can only feed so much grain.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Flipper View Post
                    Just wondering - what is the purpose of adding beet pulp to feed? It doesn't seem to have a lot of fat, but I've seen people add it for horses that need to put on weight. I've fed it, soaked, as a yummy treat added to the grain, but really, what is its useful purpose?
                    It's an excellent source of fiber, and has a decent glycemic index. Additionally, it can be fed to horses with poor dentition who cannot safely eat hay due to the possibility of choke.
                    "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                    ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DMK View Post
                      (calories are by weight, not volume)
                      Indeed--and if you feed BP by weight, it is a safer way to add calories than by jacking up the grain ration.
                      "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                      ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                      • #12
                        Why not? Besides any wiggy feelings you might have about it being a GMO crop:

                        At about 1000 cal/lb, it's on par with alfalfa for calories

                        It's similar in protein to grass hays.

                        It's more digestible than grass hays - about 80% vs 40-60%

                        I can't find the info offhand, but there is something (valid, not just woo-woo) out there about how beet pulp sets up an environment that helps increase digestion overall, something to do with being highly digestible soluble fiber helping create a very friendly environment for increasing digestive bacteria.

                        It is very low in potassium, which makes it valuable for the HYPP horse, particularly if you cannot find hay low enough - you can cut it with some beep

                        Not everything about feeding horses has to be about high fat, or high calories, or even high nutrition. Sometimes it is about how digestible those (lower) calories are.
                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                        • #13
                          I would add that in my area it's no longer cheap to feed. Pound for pound, it currently costs the same as LMF Senior, which is a beet pulp based senior feed, at my feed store, so you need to do the local math.
                          If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                          • #14
                            I have one that I feed only to get supplements in her. BP is good for her because she can't pick and it's lower calories/ sugar than a pelleted feed.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by fatappy View Post
                              I have one that I feed only to get supplements in her. BP is good for her because she can't pick and it's lower calories/ sugar than a pelleted feed.
                              This. Great thing to feed the IR/airferns to get supps in them.

                              I don't find barns feeding it because it is cheap. In fact there are a lot of barns that won't feed it as they think it has to soak forever. As everyone else has said, it's a great way to add fiber and pretty much any horse can eat and benefit from it.


                              • #16
                                I like it as a filler for my mare since she is choke prone and during the summer gets minimal grain. In years past I struggled with her weight but did not find beet pulp helpful for weight gain despite the positive experiences of other board members.


                                • #17
                                  All the reasons above, pretty much.

                                  I have never actually heard "because it's inexpensive" as an answer from someone.

                                  My TB gets HOT on alfalfa, we're giving him all the grain I feel is appropriate, and he won't eat all the bermuda we give him. Beet pulp is what tips him over the edge from slightly ribby to ideal weight.
                                  If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                                  • #18
                                    Beet pulp is good stuff. Most horses love it, and it's great for feeding supplements. I feed it to my TB because it rounds him out nicely. The two senior horses get a little because they have dental issues. It is slightly less expensive to feed, but not a lot.
                                    I love my Econo-Nag!


                                    • #19
                                      Beet pulp is amazing for so many reasons...it is high and fibre and keeps things moving along nicely, plus it adds a lot of water to the diet which helps keep things lubricated and digested effectively.


                                      • #20
                                        Yep my air ferns are on it because they think they are getting something. I feed the other two so I bring them in and they get beet pulp with no molasses to appease them. I do like it in winter also to get more water in them so I give it to all 4 in the winter.
                                        Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole