Beetpulp; Ideal for your horse or not?

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Ideal for your horse or not?


Since a while now  beet pulp as horse feed has been very popular. Beet pulp is a waste product after they have extracted the sugar from the beet.

The feeding industry is very happy about the fact that it has become a popular feed, because their waste product isn’t wasted anymore. They can now get rid of it by selling it as animal feed and they earn money with this as well!


But is beet pulp really a good idea to feed your horse? I know that a lot has been written and said about beet pulp being safe to feed your horse. But whatever is said does not mean that it is true. Even studies that have been done on it does not mean that that’s a fact.



First a few facts



Glyphosate is a herbicide and used to kill perennial weeds. This substance is absorbed by plants and ends up in the end product, which is used as animal feed. Glyphosate can also be used in the beet production and thus you end up feeding this to your horse. Have you ever considered this? [1]



Most people think that because the sugar has been extracted from the beet that the beet pulp does no longer contain sugar. But is this a fact?

Tests have been done to find out how much sugar and starch still remains in the pulp and it varies from 7% up to 23%. Which is still a lot! Especially for the horses with insulin resistance, EMS and who are prone to laminitis. For these horses you want a sugar content of 6% or less. [2]



Beet pulp is mostly fed because of the high fibre content. It mainly consists out of pectin, which is a fibre. But are pectin’s suitable for our horses? [3]


A horse`s digestive system is developed to digest low quality roughage, so low in energy and high in fibre. This is a fact. Also, the bacteria in the gut are mostly bacteria that are able to digest cellulose. By digesting cellulose they produce vitamins and volatile fatty acids.


On the other hand, pectine`s are broken down by protozoa and lactic acid bacteria and lactic acid is produced.


And what does the lactic acid do to your horse? It makes it acidic! Horses can get cramped/acidic muscles. But most importantly it also lowers the pH in their gut. The `good` bacteria that digest celluloce are destroyed/killed by the lactic acid. They do not like an acidic environment. These dead bacteria release a lot of toxins that end up in your horses body. And this can have all sorts of impacts on your horse`s health!


I know a lot of people will say that spring grass ( young grass ) contains a lot of pectins as well. This is a fact. So pectins are safe?

The answer is; a healthy horse can deal with the pectins in spring time, the protozoa and lactic acid bacteria will have a party during this season. But after that when the grass grows longer and more fibrous the cellulose bacteria will thrive again. This way the protozoa and lactic acid bacteria are held in proportion so the gut is well balanced.


BUT….. You can imagine if you feed beet pulp all year long or during winter time. That your constantly feeding the protozoa and lactic acid bacteria. Is this a good idea?


I will leave it up to you now to decide whether you want to feed beet pulp or not ????


Unfortunately, Studies that assess the use of by-products rich in pectins in feeding horses are scarce and are usually held for a short period or with small number of animals. (Feed that is rich in pectins are, beet pulp, soy bean hulls)  [5]















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