Re: beet pulp

Susan Evans Garlinghouse (
Thu, 06 Nov 1997 16:14:02 -0800

Ann Blankenship wrote:
> In reading the recent posts regarding beet pulp, I got the idea that you
> could feed it as a total feed. Apparently, this is not true. In talking
> to a friend who feeds it, you are not supposed to use beet pulp to fulfill
> more than 20% of the horses total nutrition. It says so right there on the
> bag...I seen it with my own eyes!

Well, not to split hairs, but actually you could do alot worse than to
feed beet pulp as a total feed. I ran it through my computer program
just for grins and 17 pounds of beet pulp would provide a better diet
than alot of rations I've seen that would be considered "normal". Two, I
wouldn't consider reading a feed bag to be the last word on equine
nutrition recommendations. At best, they're a very general rule of
thumb with lots of exceptions to the rules. At worst, they haven't got a
clue other than trying to get you to buy their product. Trust me, I
used to be in animal marketing and nobody writing the label copy is
burning the midnight oil checking out the latest research.

But back to beet pulp---20% of the horse's ration by weight in the form
of beet pulp would be fine, but you could also feed more than that and
have no problems at all. There was some nifty research at CSU Fresno by
Ann Rodiek that fed beet pulp at 45% of the total ration (That was DRY
beet pulp, not soaked) and found no incidence of choke, digestive upset,
any other adverse reactions. Also, the horses tended to gain weight and
had a very slightly higher (statistically insignificant) water content
to the feces, which for most endurance horses would be a good thing. In
other words, this is good stuff. I wouldn't lose any sleep at all
feeding my horses beet pulp at levels up to 45%, and for that matter, if
I had a choice of being stranded on a desert island with a bunch of
hungry endurance horses and a choice between only beet pulp or alfalfa
as the only food available, I'd probably take the beet pulp.
> So this is actually a SUPPLEMENT?!?! I could swear that there are people
> out there who feed it instead of hay... Is this right, or did I assume?

I guess "supplement" would depend on your definition. I tend to think
of supplements as being a minor proportion of the diet added in small
quantities to provide specific nutrients---like vitamin mixes or soybean
meal. Beet pulp has so many good things in it, I use it around here as
one of the staples of the diet. But I probably wouldn't use it to
totally replace hay in the diet.

> So, how much beet pulp should you feed the average, working pretty hard,
> endurance horse? How about the average, laid up for the winter, endurance
> horse?

I hate handing out hard numbers because then folks start using that as a
"rule" reading on the back of the feed bag not to feed more than
20% of the ration as beet pulp (and I'm NOT knocking you, Ann, just
pointing out human nature when it comes to reading labels). So here's
how I feed beet pulp, which you can use as a general example, NOT as
This Is How It Must Be Done---my horses usually get good quality grass
(bermuda) hay free-choice, but AT LEAST equal to 1% of their body weight
per day (a 1000 lb horse gets at least 10 lbs per day). That's to
maintain gut motility, among other things. I give each horse about 3
pounds of beet pulp, soaked overnight, into which I've mixed some
additional grain depending on each horse's individual needs, depending
on whether he's growing, mature but needs weight, working or whatever.
If I had a hard working endurance horse, I'd probably feed around 3
pounds of beet pulp, a pound or two of concentrate pellets like
Performance 606 and all the corn oil I could convince the horse to eat.
None of my horses are working very hard right now (mysteriously, all my
riding time seems to be spent on the computer lately ;-), but I do have
a hardkeeper broodmare in her third trimester that turns her nose up at
alot of straight grain, but will gobble beet pulp, grain and corn oil,
so she eats over 30% of her daily ration in the form of beet pulp, and
she's Blooming, to say the least (this is Dakota's mom that I got for a
song because she was always too thin to settle in foal, heh heh heh...).

Anyway, this is just an example---you can use "a few pounds" as a
starting point and go from there without worrying about going over any

My friend who is kicking ass and taking names with her tough little
> Bezatal grandaughter, seems to be feeding a small coffee can or two along
> with Source and a bunch of hay. Oh, and some oil too. Is this pretty much
> the norm?

Normal, no. Normal is what everyone on average is feeding, and on
average, most horses don't get this good a diet. I'm not surprised
she's kicking butt. Good quality grass hay, beet pulp and oil sounds
like a terrific ration to me.
> Is there actually NUTRITION in this stuff? Or just mostly fiber? I think
> I've been confused about the role of beet pulp.

I posted something about Everything You'd Ever Want to Know About Beet
Pulp I think last week that talks about the nutritive contents of beet
pulp. It is definitely not just fiber---it has more energy than hay,
plenty of vitamins and minerals, a fine calcium-phosphorus ratio and
doesn't cause the digestive upsets that grains and highly soluble
carbohydrates can. Can you tell I love this stuff?

Bottom line, no, you probably shouldn't feed it as a Total Feed short of
being stranded on a desert island. As a significant portion of the diet
along with hay, it's terrific stuff. Go for it, and then go chase down
your friend with the Bezatal granddaughter.

Good luck!

Susan Garlinghouse