You may have heard of beet pulp, or even have fed it to your horse already. Beet pulp is a by-product of the sugar beet industry and has traditionally been used as cattle feed. Today it is also used as a supplementary feed for horses.
In principle, you can feed beet pulp to any horse, but some horses can benefit greatly from it:
- (Older) horses with poor teeth: it can be difficult for these horses to chew and digest roughage or concentrates. Beet pulp is easy to absorb for the horse because it is soaked. This way they can still get enough fibre to keep their gastrointestinal system healthy.
- Underweight horses: Due to its high fibre and energy content, beet pulp can help to put weight on underweight horses.
- Insulin-resistant or laminitic horses: beet pulp is well suited for these horses due to its low sugar content. In addition to the low sugar content, beet pulp has a low starch content and a low glycaemic index. This index shows how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels.
- Horses with dust allergies or respiratory problems: because beet pulp is fed soaked, it does not contain dust and mould. It can therefore be a good feed for horses that can suffer from this.
- Endurance horses: These horses are on the go all day and sweat a lot due to the effort they exert. It is therefore important for these horses to keep a close eye on their fluid balance in their body. By feeding beet pulp, you are already adding extra water to the body.
- Sick or recovering horses: Beet pulp is easy to absorb and easy to digest. In addition, due to the fluid content, it is the ideal basis for mixing other things such as medications. Especially if horses are not used to pulp, they may not be so enthusiastic about this new addition to the menu in the beginning. You can familiarise them to it by mixing the pulp with for example muesli, mash or bran.
Caution! Do not feed beet pulp dry!
Another major drawback for some owners is the preparation of beet pulp. You can get it in pellets or flakes. But unlike other feeds that are available in this form, you should not just feed beet pulp to your horse. It is a very dry product (5% water) and absorbs a lot of water in a short time. When the horse chews on the dry beet pulp, the saliva causes the beet pulp to swell. The horse swallows it, but the beet pulp continues to swell. This can cause oesophageal obstructions. Therefore, beet pulp must be soaked in water for several hours before it can be fed. There is also a quick-soaking beet pulp, which only needs to soak for 10 minutes.