Thursday, January 7, 2010

Beet pulp: When to feed, how to feed, Part 2

Okay, so my last post gave some of the basics about what beet pulp is and its nutritional content. Here's some additional info about which horses will benefit, which ones won't, and of course the list of resources.

When to feed beet pulp..

  • For horses that need to fatten up but get too “hot” on grain products.
  • For horses that have metabloic issues such as polysaccharide storage myopathy
  • For horses prone to laminitis
  • For horses who have difficulty chewing hay, beet pulp can replace up to 25% of hay on a pound-per-pound basis
  • For horses with respiratory issues, beet pulp is a dust-free forage replacement
  • To increase water intake in horses who do not drink enough in winter months
Contraindications <-----I love this word (or, When not to feed it)
  • Nutritionists warn against using beet pulp as a complete replacement for hay, unless a special diet is needed for medical reasons. The best, most natural forage for horses is hay.
  • Feeding large quantities of beet pulp could cause a calcium/phosphorus imbalance. No more than 25% of your horse's total diet fed as beet pulp.
  • Beet pulp won't be much help in the diet of a horse that ties up (see Horsechannel article).
  • Due to beet pulp’s relatively high calcium and low phosphorus levels, it could interfere with normal bone development in young horses. In older horses, the excess calcium could cause kidney stones (renal calculi) or intestinal stones (enteroliths).

Feeding tips
  • Use warm water. Hot water will cook the beet pulp and destroy most of the nutrients in it.
  • While sources indicate it can be fed dry, soak to plump it up (at least 30 minutes) to reduce the risk of choke.
  • In the summer, soaked beet pulp should be fed within 24 hours (48 hours in the winter)
  • If you can only find beet pulp with molasses, drain off the water to (or rinse and drain) to remove the lion's share of the added sugars.

The myth and reality of beet pulp from Shady Acres
Horse beet pulp from
Understanding beet pulp as an equine feed from
Beet pulp as a fiber source for horses from
What's so special about beet pulp?
Should you feed beet pulp? from
What is beet pulp? from
Feeding beet pulp from
Nutritional analysis of beed pulp from the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative
Beet pulp quiz! from Equine Ink


  1. Thank you for this post. I feed beet pulp on occasion - when we have crazy temperature drops - to get more water into the horses. But I've been thinking about feeding it regularly because I have easy keepers and someone suggested it because it will stay in their gut longer while their little rations of hay will pass right through and then they have empty tummys for too long. Don't know if that is accurate or not. I didn't know to use warm instead of hot water. Thanks! I will stop pouring boiling water onto the beet pulp. And that is a great tip about pouring off the water when it has molasses. I've only found the shreds with molasses, but someone just clued me in on a local store that has the pellets without molasses.

    When you say to soak for at least 30 minutes, are you referring to shreds or pellets? Do the pellets need longer?

  2. Thanks again. A nice, helpful, informative post in an easy to understand format.

    Much appreciated.

  3. beetpulp is also good for hydrating a hot or hardworking horse in warm/hot weather -- that's why endurance riders feed so much of it!

    Well, and also because our horses will suck it up in huge quantities at the vetchecks and in camp because it tastes nice.

  4. I have not seen the pellets, but the experts seem to think the soaking is mainly to prevent choke, so I would guess when the pellet is soaked to the core it's ready. Just a guess.

  5. I have had good luck with pelleted rice bran for horses that tend to lose weight in the cold months. You have to make sure to get balanced rice bran. It worked well for an Oldenburg gelding of mine with out making him too "hot."

  6. You should have also linked to Shady Acre's Beet Pulp Safety Warning. If anyone has any squirrels around their horses, they could be in for quite the amusing surprise.

  7. The pellets absorb the water and then fall apart. The final result looks as though the beets have been very finely chopped - no longer pellets.

    The dry pellets are very compressed and very hard. I wouldn't feed them dry to a horse, but that's just me.

    There is a LOT of info about beet pulp on the yahoo Cushings/IR group.

  8. Just read the Squirrel warning..... Laughed till I cried!!

  9. Great post. I added beet pulp a few months ago. I was skeptical, but my horse is finally keeping his weight during the winter and putting on some extra! There is a lot of confusing information out there, so thank you for clearing it up!

  10. Once again, great info. I have forwarded it on to some people I know that have hard keepers. I'm going to look into getting some myself! And thanks for all the references as well. It makes it very easy to read up more. Appreciate it! =)

  11. I love beet pulp. My Hanoverian mare has been on it for years. Not only do I think it keeps her in nice weight, I also think it makes her coat nice and shiny. She is very sensitive and I can usually notice when something is wrong due to her coat condition. But, generally speaking, people compliment me on her color and shine. I usually tell them "thanks to beet pulp." I realize it might not be true for all horses, but it works for her.

  12. we use beet pulp with stallions that need to gain weight, works well without making them too hyper, loved the extra info, will refer folks to it, thanks


Hi Guys, Your comments are valued and appreciated -- until recently I never rejected a post. Please note that I reserve the right to reject an anonymous post.