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Understanding the Role of Beet Pulp in Equine Nutrition

Beet pulp is a rather popular addition to an equine diet, yet it is imperative that this additive is administered in the proper fashion to permit the animal to experience the maximum benefit.

Its versatility has long since endeared it to stable keeper who were able to use beet pulp as an additive to hay of poorer quality, thus increasing its roughage content. Senior horses benefit from beet pulp if they have a hard time chewing and otherwise digesting the roughage they are taking in.

For those wondering about this substance it is important to understand that beet pulp is nothing more than the fibrous remains of sugar beets from the sugar has been removed. Once dried, it might be changed into pellet form or

sold as shreds, and it contains so much digestible energy as to put hay to shame. Due to this fact you will often see it listed as an added ingredient on your horse’s feed where it is listed as easily digestible fiber when hay is not added to the animals overall diet.

Some horse aficionados have heard the tale of needing to soak beet pulp prior to feeding it to the animals for them to be able to completely digest it, yet this theory has been disproven when studies on the subject evidenced that neither colic nor manure changes were evident in animals that consumed it un-soaked. Nonetheless, soaking the pulp does add some palatability to the feed, and if you wish to do so make certain that you soak your beet pulp in portions just big enough for one feeding. Beet pulp has been found to ferment rather quickly, thus rendering it inedible for the horses. While you may wish to mix the pulp in with your horse’s grain, you can also go ahead and feed it by itself. Obviously, you do not want to overwhelm your horse’s digestive tract by over-feeding the substance and it is best to begin feeding beet pulp in smaller increments only to then slowly and gradually increase the amount and you reach the required amounts.

Failure to follow this advice may wreak havoc with your horse’s calcium to phosphorus balance as it is in the gut. This in turn may create problems with the development of foals’ bone density and structure. In addition to the foregoing, the high levels of calcium that are present in the pulp may be contributory factors to kidney stones if it is fed in excess of recommended portions. As a general rule of thumb, daily portion size of beet pulp for a bony should not exceed two pounds. Horses under the age of three should not be fed more than four pounds of the dried pulp, while six pounds of this substance is the limit for a fully grown horse.

Read the next horse nutrition article on Pelleted feed.
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