You may have seen boarders at your barn or riders at events scooping stuff into buckets for soaking and wondered what it was and what it was for. What they’re doing is soaking beet pulp for their horses. You may wonder if you should be feeding it your own horse and if beet pulp should be a part of their diet. Beet pulp can be used for horses with all sorts of needs; many will benefit from its addition or substitution for other forages. It doesn’t actually need to be soaked, but many horses just prefer it that way.
Beet pulp is a great source of fibre for horses with weak teeth. It’s easier for them to chew than many of the harder forages such as hay. Also, when there’s a shortage of hay due to an ill-timed rainy season or drought, beet pulp can fill in for necessary forage. It’s important to keep your horse’s digestive system moving and not empty. The pulp can also be a solid feed choice for horses who are susceptible to sugar or starch such as insulin-resistant horses. It’s low in sugar and start with a low glycemic index, so there’s only a small rise in blood glucose after a meal. Beet pulp does have a higher calorie content than hay, so you have to watch how much you feed with horses who have no problems with weight, but for those that do have problems keeping their weight up it’s an excellent source of fibre and calories.
It’s a myth that you need to soak beet pulp before you feed it to your horse that your horse could choke on the dry pulp but in fact, your horse can potentially choke on any feed if it eats too quickly. However, some horses just prefer their beet pulp soaked, and with most things, your horse will be happy to tell you enthusiastically if they don’t like the way you prepare it. Their preference can range from to ‘just wet’ all the way to ‘soupy.’
With all new types of feed and forage, it’s best to introduce the pulp gradually into your horse’s diet. While beet pulp is considered a help for cranky tummies and a great addition to things like pre and probiotics, your horse will have to adjust, and it’s best to do it a little bit at a time. A probiotic such as AbAactive can help your horse’s stomach get used to new things while contributing to battle ulcers and colic.
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