Beet pulp contains a high level of fibre, nourishment that horses need, and which can therefore be very useful in their diet
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From a nutritional point of view beet pulp is considered to be superfibre or high fibre.
It has excellent levels of fibre that in fact the horse is able to use for its own production of energy, thus obtaining double the levels compared to that of a good fodder and which is only slightly lower in cereals such as oats. Fibre is a nutrient that is essential for horses for the functionality of the large intestine (hindgut): if horses do not take in a suitable amount they are therefore exposed to the risk of intestinal block function.
Beet pulp is sold in different formats.
- Loose: thin grey strips or strings
- Pelleted: included in pellets of different sizes
- Molasses: rich in molasses, a by-product of sugar production
- Rapid: the strips are treated so that they are easier to prepare. All that is needed in fact is soaking for 20 minutes to then be ready to be administered.
Attention however: beet pulp should NOT be administered to the horse in its natural state but must be left to soak in water for a few hours; this way it absorbs water and swells as if it were in the form of small sponges. If administered dry it could cause oesophageal obstruction (choke) or become an actual blockage as it could remain trapped in the oesophagus. In this case only a veterinarian can help the horse to get rid of the problem.
The nutritional characteristics of the pulp make it a very useful raw material for horses with specific problems:
Pulp not molasses
- horses that need diets with low levels of starch but which are highly energetic: fat and fibre diets are rations in which energy is derived from foods that are high in fat such as oil and fibre. This is the case of horses that suffer from EGUS (equine gastric ulcer syndrome), that suffer from muscle problems such as RER (recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis) or EPSM (equine polysaccharide storage myopathy). Many sport horses benefit from these types of diets.
- Horses with cushing: these animals at the risk of laminitis do not need an excess amount of starch in their diet but at the same time they need energy to counter the effect of the illness, which causes them to lose weight and muscle mass.
- Endurance horses: the pulp conveys fibre and water, essential elements in the management of the endurance horse.
If instead we buy molasses pulp, their indications for use change:
- Lean horses: the pulp is useful due to its greater contribution of energy also given by the presence of molasses
- Difficult horses (fussy feeders): being sugary and sweet, it is liked by most horses
- Older horses: they are facilitated in the chewing of food such as soft pulp and so are tempted to consume this type of food
The quantities that can be used depend on the diet in use and the general aim. Generally 200-300 grams of dry pulp to be added to water for rehydration is a good contribution to most diets. However before using it, it is advisable to consult our usual nutritionist.