There are many misconceptions about using beet pulp for horses, but in actual fact it is extremely beneficial, so you may want to consider feeding beet pulp to horses to improve both their health and condition.
When sugar is extracted from sugar beets to make table sugar, the by-product is the fibrous beet pulp that is left behind. This pulp has a high-fiber content, it is highly digestible, and it is low in sugar and starch, giving it a low glycemic index. So, why would you want to feed it to your horse? Firstly, beet pulp is a carbohydrate that can provide a source of roughage and energy to your horse. Yet the low glycemic index means that it will not rapidly increase your horse’s blood sugar levels, so it will not make your horse hot and difficult to handle.
When it comes to feeding beet pulp to horses, there are many misconceptions. Some people believe that it is unsafe to use beet pulp for horses, as it may cause the horse to choke, or it may swell up inside the gut and rupture the stomach. The fact is that beet pulp is a very useful and versatile feed, and it is completely safe to feed to horses. It will not cause a horse to choke if allowed to soak and soften, and when the horse’s stomach gets full, hormones are secreted that stimulate the gut to eliminate the contents of the stomach into the small intestine, then passing on to the cecum, and finally the colon, by peristaltic action.
Beet pulp may be fed to the horse wet or dry, depending on the brand. Feed dry with caution, and follow the manufacturers instructions carefully. Most people prefer to soak the beet pulp to avoid issues with choking. Like any dry pelleted feed, choking may occur when using beet pulp for horses in dry form if the horse bolts his food down without chewing. Depending on the brand, dried beet pulp comes in shredded, pelleted or flaked form, which is typically mixed in a ratio of five parts water to one part dried pulp, and may be soaked anywhere from five minutes to 24 hours. The beet pulp swells up in size to form a soft palatable mash, which you can feed to your horses as a stand-alone mash, or mixed with their ration of concentrates.
Beet pulp can replace up to 25% of the horse’s daily feed ration, and can be used to replace both forage and commercial concentrated feeds. Some other form of forage containing long stem fiber still needs to be given to keep the hind-gut functioning properly, however this can be reduced when using beet pulp as a supplementary source of fiber in the horses daily ration. This is particularly useful when forage is scarce, as it can help you stretch the available forage over a longer period to help tide you over until you can obtain more forage.
Beet pulp is high in fiber and carbohydrates, yet low in starch and sugars, making it suitable for horses that are prone to high blood glucose levels, such as horses with metabolism disorders who cannot produce insulin efficiently and need a low sugar, low starch diet. Beet pulp is recommended for horses that are predisposed to suffer from laminitis, and some brands, such as speedibeet, are endorsed by the Laminitis Trust. Some manufacturers add molasses to improve palatability, so if you have a horse with blood sugar issues and added sugars are a concern, check the label.
Beet pulp can be used effectively to control weight in horses. Not only can it be used to put on weight when fed in addition to the horse’s daily ration, but it can also be used to assist a horse to lose weight. As beet pulp provides a lot of bulk it makes the horse feel full, and if fed before turning out or feeding forage it will eat less, and lose weight, yet still maintain condition.
Beet pulp is an extremely versatile horse feed, and is suitable for all stages of horse care. It can safely be used to feed all horses, including foals, young horses, brood mares, seniors and convalescing horses, as well as working horses. Using beet pulp for old horses can maintain weight and greatly improve overall condition. It can be used to partly replace fodder when this is scarce, to assist a horse put on weight, or to help a horse lose weight. It can also be used in the diets of horses that have metabolism imbalances and suffer from related health issues, and thus should not be overlooked as a healthy supplement to your horse’s daily diet.
Using beet pulp for horses can be highly beneficial to the proper health of an equine animal. It provides dietary fiber without the negative effects of too much sugar. This versatility allows owners to compensate for the remainder of the horse’s diet.
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