Thehorse.com - Full Article
by: Karen Briggs
May 01 1999, Article # 314
Q: I've been told I should feed beet pulp to help put weight on my skinny Thoroughbred. But I'm worried about the stories I've heard about beet pulp expanding in the horse's stomach and causing colic -- or worse! Is beet pulp a good addition to my horse's diet, and if so, how can I feed it safely?
A: Beet pulp is the fibrous material left over after the sugar is extracted from sugar beets. It's an excellent source of digestible fiber, with a relatively low crude protein content (averaging 8 to 10%), comparable to good-quality grass hay. Its digestible energy is somewhere between that of hay and grain. In terms of other nutrients, it's not a stand-out--it has a relatively high calcium content and very little phosphorus, is low in B vitamins, and has virtually no beta-carotene (the precursor of vitamin A) or vitamin D. Its chief value is as a soft, easily digestible supplement to your horse's roughage (fiber) intake, and as such it's a useful addition to the diet of many types of horses.
Consider feeding beet pulp if your horse is a "hard keeper" (it's very good for encouraging weight gain), if he has dental problems that make chewing hay difficult, if the quality of your hay is poor, or if you have a geriatric horse who has trouble chewing or digesting other types of forage. It can be fed in addition to, or instead of, hay. Beet pulp's excellent digestibility also makes it a great choice for a convalescing horse--one recovering from illness or surgery, for example. It even can be fed warm in the winter months, just like a bran mash (and nutritionally, it's a better choice than bran)...
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