How Much Beet Pulp to Feed a Horse

Beet pulp is an effective dietary supplement to give to horses that are either aging or happen to be underweight. Because it is a byproduct of sugar beets, it provides a high calorie, low density feed option which allows a horse to be able to maintain its weight more effectively.

Each horse has different dietary requirements, so the amount of beet pulp to feed a horse will depend on many factors: height, current weight, healthy weight, and so forth.

You can begin to calculate how much beet pulp to feed a horse by looking at the rate of weight gain that occurs in an average horse from this product. For every 4 pounds of daily beet pulp fed to a horse daily, it can maintain its present body weight and gain up to one-half pound per day. Then, based on the amount of weight that needs to be maintained or added, the amount of feed can be quickly adjusted.

What Does Beet Pulp Provide to a Horse?

At its core, beet pulp is really just a fiber product. It’s just easier to digest than other forms of fiber that a horse eats, including the daily hay it may receive. The bacteria in the digestive tract of the horse can ferment the product easily because of its higher sugar content as well, which provides more energy to the horse.

Some believe the health value of beet pulp is nearly equal to the value of oats. It may be able to prevent incidents of colic if the fiber has been properly soaked. Beet pulp also holds water very well, which can make it possible to increase the amount of water consumption that a stubborn horse who doesn’t like to drink is able to receive.

What Horses Benefit from Being Fed Beet Pulp?

Just about any aging or underweight horse can benefit from being fed beet pulp. As with any dietary change, it is important for your veterinarian to know what your plans happen to be. The horses who tend to benefit the most from this feed option tend to face unique health challenges.

  • Horses with teeth in poor condition can be encouraged to forage because of the softer fibers that beet pulp is able to provide.
  • Horses that experience regular periods of colic or digestive upset can receive some relief by consuming beet pulp.
  • Horses that are sensitive to sugars and starches, such as a horse suffering from insulin-resistance, can also benefit from this product. Although there is a higher sugar content, it is still a feed option that has a low glycemic index.

Its greatest benefits come to horses that are hard keepers. The higher calorie content of beet pulp when compared to hay make it an affordable substitute for those horses who just don’t like to forage much.

How Much Beet Pulp Can I Safely Feed a Horse?

The actual amount of beet pulp that is used to supplement the nutrition of a horse depends on what your end goals happen to be for equine health. Are you supplementing beet pulp with grain? Are you substituting beet pulp for foraging?

In nutritional research, horses have been successfully fed a dietary regimen that includes 55% of their caloric intake coming from beet pulp. That means a 1,500-pound horse could be fed up to 13 pounds of beet pulp per day.

Beet pulp does have some nutritional deficits that must be addressed, however, if it is going to be a majority component of a horse’s diet. It contains about 10% crude protein, so other protein sources may be required. It also has a calcium-to-phosphorus ratio that is 5 times higher than is recommended.

Beet pulp also lacks Vitamin A and Vitamin E, so horses fed beet pulp in amounts that exceed 3 pounds per day should receive dietary supplements to make up for the lack of nutrients. The phosphorus content must also be taken seriously, so mixing it with grains can help to balance out the dietary needs of the horse. 

Does Beet Pulp Need to Be Soaked Before It Is Fed to a Horse?

No. Many owners believe that beet pulp must be soaked because dry beet pulp can make it easier for the horse to choke if it is consumed too quickly. Any horse can choke on any dry feed if it eats too quickly, so beet pulp on its own is not an obstructive factor.

You may find that your horse does not prefer to eat dry beet pulp. It may be due to a feed change, which in itself can cause stress for a horse. The horse may prefer to eat the beet pulp wet because it tastes better to them that way.

Each horse is a little different. Some like it lightly soaked, while others prefer to consume more of a beet pulp soup as part of their feed. You only need to soak it long enough for it to become soft, which can also be different depending on local weather patterns.

Soaking it can reduce the threat of an obstruction occurring while eating. If you are planning to serve at least 2 pounds of beet pulp to a horse, the recommendation is to soak it unless the horse prefers it dry.

How Fast Does Beet Pulp Become Spoiled?

Beet pulp does not have a long half-life. Once it has been properly soaked and it has become soft, fermenting and spoilage may occur in 12 hours or less. Even in cooler environments, the amount of time that beet pulp can stay viable is often less than 24 hours.

Any time you encounter beet pulp that smells sour or fermented, it should be thrown away instead of being given to the horse.

Dry beet pulp can also become moldy if you happen to live in a high moisture environment, such as the Pacific Northwest. Treat this product as you would treat moldy hay and avoid giving it to your horse at all costs.

Hot and humid environments can also encourage rapid spoilage. Always check on your beet pulp before feeding it. Never assume that any previously soaked feed is good to give to a horse.

If you don’t want to hassle with adding the beet pulp to the feed of your horse on your own, there are several commercial feeds that have already incorporated this food product. Some have done so in large proportions. These commercial products do not typically need to be soaked, which reduces the risk of spoilage over time.

Home much beet pulp should be fed to a horse? By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to find the correct feed ratio so that your horse can achieve and then maintain its optimal weight.