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Dr. Tania Cubitt and Dr. Stephen Duren, Performance Horse Nutrition and Standlee Premium Products Nutritional Consultants


It is recommended that beet pulp, both pellets and shreds, be soaked in water prior to feeding them to horses. Beet pulp is a low moisture, dehydrated prod- uct capable of quickly absorbing a large amount of water. This rapid absorption of water causes beet pulp to swell to a volume many times normal, potentially resulting in digestive upset if the prod- uct is not soaked prior to feeding. Many sources of beet pulp have molasses or molasses product added to them to aid in the pelleting process or to minimize dust. Molasses and molasses products con- tain sugar, which may not be a desirable nutrient in the diet for horses sensitive to sugar.


It was hypothesized that normal soak- ing and rinsing of beet pulp would de- crease the sugar content of the product.


To test this hypothesis, two pints of water were added to both one pint of Standlee Premium Products Beet Pulp pellets and one pint of beet pulp shreds. The pulp was then allowed to soak for approximately 2 hours in their containers at a mild room temperature (about 75°F). After soaking, the excess water was strained from the pulp and the beet pulp was thoroughly rinsed in a strainer with additional water. Prior to soaking and again after soaking, samples of beet pulp pellets and beet pulp shreds were sent to Equi-Analytical laboratory for sugar analysis.


From this experiment, we were able to draw the following conclusions. It was determined that soaking beet pulp on the volumetric basis of two parts water to one part beet pulp results in adequate rehydration of both pelleted and shred- ded forms of beet pulp. In this experiment, beet pulp was soaked for a total of 2 hours to ensure the maximum amount of water was absorbed. It was noted the majority of water was absorbed within the first 30 minutes of soaking, and we did not observe a significant advantage of soaking beet pulp for longer than 30 minutes. Soaking beet pulp followed by rinsing with additional water significantly reduced the non-structural carbohydrate content of both pelleted and shredded forms of beet pulp. The majority of carbohydrate represented in the non-structural carbohydrate content of beet pulp consists of water soluble carbohydrate (WSC). It is the WSC content of beet pulp which is reduced in the soaking and rinsing process.

For horses sensitive to the sugar con- tent of the diet, it appears that beet pulp with added molasses is acceptable as a low sugar fiber option if the beet pulp has been soaked and rinsed prior to feeding.

The following table represents the results of soaking beet pulp on non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) content.

Physical Form Pre-soak Post-soak % Change
Beet pulp pellets 10.9% 5.6% -48.63%
Beet pulp shreds 16.7% 6.3% -62.28

NSC Values (WSC + Starch), Dry Matter Basis