If you have had horses for years, or are just now embarking on horse ownership, you have undoubtedly heard of Beet Pulp.
Beet pulp is derived from sugar beets and often used as a staple in horse diets. Once the sugar is removed from the beet, the pulp left over is dried and subsequently formed into pellets, cubes, crumbles, or shreds. If pelletted or cubed the beet pulp is often soaked to create a softer oatmeal like mash, prior to feeding.
Beet pulp contains a highly digestible fiber (pectin) that is considered to be comparable to many high quality forages. The fiber in beet pulp is the same fiber found in many fruits that have been proven to aid in intestinal health, which when dealing with horses, is vital to their overall survival. In addition to its fiber content it is also low in starch and sugar content, making it a cooler way to supplement a horses diet. Traditional grains contain corn, and often times sugars that can, depending on the horse, cause an excess of energy for the horse. Beet pulp is a low sugar alternative for horses that have a difficult time processing the sugars found in traditional grains.
Because beet pulp is typically soaked to create a mash, it is ideal for the older horse who may have dental issues, making hay/traditional forage difficult to chew. Horses who have respiratory issues can benefit from the addition of soaked beet pulp in their diets; traditional grains contain dust and often exacerbate the problem. Horses whom are in poor health and in need of weight gain benefit from the low sugar, high fiber qualities of beet pulp as well, putting on weight safely.
For a horse in good health the addition of beet pulp during the winter months, when pastures are dry and the weather is colder, can aid in maintaining their ideal weight. In addition to the health benefits, most horses welcome the warm mash on cold mornings.
Most horses will eat plain beet pulp, once soaked, as it does contain some sugar content and is "sweet" in that sense. However, if the horse is picky it may turn its nose up to the beet pulp and with it the many benefits of beet pulp! Soaking the beet pulp in warm water, adding a handful of alfalfa pellets, or slicing up a carrot or two will likely convince even the pickiest of eaters to give it a try.
All in all the benefits of beet pulp in a horse's diet are many, from weight gain to supplementing a diet low in hay and or forage to simply making a cold morning a little less severe.
For the horse owner, the benefits of beet pulp are both financial and reassuring. Your pocketbook won't feel the pinch of a $50.00 bag of grain every couple weeks and you can be assured that your horse is not consuming any unnecessary additives. As horse owners, we are always working to ensure our horse's diet is sufficient. The addition of beet pulp is a natural, time tested, alternative to commercial grains that can, and often do, contain unnecessary chemicals and additives.