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Ep. 048: Beet Pulp – What Is It and Why Do Horses Need It?

Co-hosts Dr. Tania Cubitt and Katy Starr discuss anything and everything you’d ever want to know about beet pulp.

Episode Notes

On this episode, co-hosts Dr. Tania Cubitt and Katy Starr discuss anything and everything you’d ever want to know about beet pulp including:


• What is beet pulp and where does it come from?

• What type of horses should and shouldn’t be fed beet pulp?

• Can beet pulp swell in a horse’s stomach? – this answer may surprise you!


How much do you know about beet pulp? Go on this deep dive with us to really understand what this super fiber is all about!


Have any topics you want to hear more about? Let us know at




  • *Views and opinions expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Standlee Premium Products, LLC.*

Katy Starr (00:01):

Hi, I'm Katy.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (00:02):

And I'm Dr. Cubitt. We're going Beyond the Barn. Come join us on this journey as we bust equine and livestock nutrition myths and interview some of the most intriguing experts in the country.


Katy Starr (00:15):

We'll go behind the scenes of how premium Western quality forage is grown and brought to your favorite farm and ranch retail store. We're so glad you're here. Welcome back to another episode of Beyond the Barn. Dr. Cubitt, thanks for joining us today.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (00:32):

Excited to be back.


Katy Starr (00:34):

Today we're going to be talking about beet pulp and this seems to be a topic that everybody loves to hear about. They want to learn more about it. What is it? Why should we feed it to our horses? What benefits can it provide? Just a multitude of things. So before we get started on the topic though, any of the topics that we cover on the Beyond the Barn podcast are more generalized and not specific to any individual horse or any specific situation. Be sure to always work with your veterinarian and nutritionist before making any drastic changes to your horse's feed program. Or you could reach out to us and talk directly with Dr. Cubitt or Dr. Duren on specifics that you'd like to know. So Dr. Cubitt, what is beet pulp and where does it come from?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (01:24):

That's a great question. So it comes from the sugar beet plant and if you've ever seen a beet root in a store, there's a bulb that grows underneath the ground and then the leaves come out the top and the leaves are harvested away. And we take that sugar beet, the beet that's under the ground and process that, extract pretty much all of the sugar out of it. And that goes to produce table sugar. And then we have this fibrous pulp that's left over that has been fed to livestock and horses for some time now, but it is in the beet family. So if you've seen beet root in the store, it's in that same family.


Katy Starr (02:11):

Well, and the nice thing about beet pulp is you know, we're taking a crop that is grown for something that we use in a lot of things, but there's more that can be done with it and it's being utilized versus just going completely to waste. So I think that's what's so great about it as well.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (02:28):

Absolutely. I think it's always great when you can use every part of a crop that you're harvesting. So obviously we're not using the leaves in livestock feed, but you're extracting all the sugar that's going into table sugar for human consumption primarily. And then that pulp that's left over isn't just being discarded, it's actually being used as a really viable commodity as well. So I agree, I like that everything's being utilized.


Katy Starr (02:57):

You have talked about how beet pulp is, I've heard you and Dr. Duren reference super fiber. Talk to us about what makes it a super fiber.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (03:07):

Well we're using the term pulp that's left over and if you think about, you know, the juice craze and everybody's juicing fruits and vegetables and they're getting all the sugary juice and then there's that pulp that's left over, that pulp is very high in fiber content. So we really wanna stop thinking about it as pulp and think about sugar beet or beet extract as a fiber source for our animals, a fiber source for horses. And we call it a super fiber because the types of fibers that are in that pulp that's left over are rapidly fermented by the bugs that live in the hindgut of the horse. And that is a good thing. That is a good thing. Some people even call, and I know I'm skipping ahead, but some people call beet pulp a super fiber or a prebiotic because a prebiotic is a food source for the bugs that live in the hindgut, right? There are lots of different prebiotics on the market, but one that is naturally fed to horses is beet pulp. And so it can have really impressive benefits on the microbiome or the bacterial population that live in the hindgut of the horse. It can really fuel and feed those good bugs. So it really is an excellent addition to a diet.


Katy Starr (04:31):

And it sounds like for most horses it's probably a good add, but what type of horses really would benefit from beet pulp being added to the diet? Are there any specific ones?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (04:44):

There's so many different reasons or applications as to what I will do with it. So it has about 1.2 mega cals per pound of calories. So if we put that in perspective, oats are about 1.5 and alfalfa's about one. So it sits right there in the middle. So it's got a fair amount of calories per pound. People don't feed a lot of it because we often will soak it or wet it so then it will absorb moisture content as well. But any horse that has loose manure or diarrhea or I suspect that there's some kind of hindgut dysbiosis, which means upset in that gut population, the bug population, then I might think about adding beet pulp as a quick, easy thing that people can access to help feed the good bugs in the hindgut because of the calorie content, little higher than alfafa, little lower than oats, underweight horses will benefit.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (05:43):

But given that it's not the highest calorie content, certainly not as high as oil in calories, I don't use it as the sole way to put weight on a horse. You've heard me say in other podcasts or in other conversations that I like a variety of different fiber sources in a horse's diet. So I wouldn't just feed beet pulp or just feed alfalfa or just feed timothy, but a combination of all of them will help feed all the different bugs in the gut. So the other area I use it is in the fall or in a situation where a horse might be at risk of impaction colic so there don't have much moisture content in their gut and I want to try and increase that or increase their water intake, then I will soak it and I will feed them the wet beet pulp because it will increase the water in their gut and so decrease their risk for impaction colic.


Katy Starr (06:36):

Right. And with impaction colic that can occur when there is more feed or fiber or whatever that's in the digestive system...


Dr. Tania Cubitt (06:46):

More dry fiber


Katy Starr (06:47):

Being safe. Yeah, there's no moisture enough moisture. Correct. They're not drinking enough, right. Excellent.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (06:52):

And any time I might worry about a horse that's got some dehydration, maybe they've gone off drinking in an area because they don't like the taste of the water or something, then I will always use beet pulp to increase the moisture content of the horse's gut.


Katy Starr (07:06):

So you talked about, you know, obviously not using it as a sole source for calorie intake, but would you add beet pulp to a rescue horse’s diet or severely underweight horse's diet to help them gain weight? And if so, at what point would it be safe to do so?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (07:26):

The first part of that is really at what point is it safe to do so? So we, we worry about, with horses that are really underweight or have been rescued and we don't know their backstory, we don't know whether they've been starved. We worry about a thing called refeeding syndrome and so you just wanna feed, feed, feed them to get weight back on them. And ultimately the best thing to feed those horses is alfalfa, small amounts of alfalfa frequently. And then I think it's after like the first 48 hours, if we haven't had any kind of muscle spasms or issues with the refeeding syndrome then we can start to add back in other ingredients. So that's when maybe I would add in a little bit of beet pulp cause it's gonna also help with hydration status. But with the horse, if I knew the horse's backstory and maybe it had gone through some kind of traumatic event and lost a bunch of weight or was sick and lost weight, then absolutely I could use beet pulp at the very beginning of that program. But like I said, based on its calorie content, okay, so if it's 1.2 mega cals per pound and oil is 4.18 or something like that, calories per pound. So oil is so much more calorie dense but you don't get the fiber content that you get with beet pulp. So whilst oil is just straight up calories, pure calories, the beet pulp is offering moderate calories, good fiber source, water holding capacity. So, it's kind of got multiple prongs to its benefit to the horse.


Katy Starr (08:59):

Right, okay. And are there any types of horses that probably shouldn't be fed beet pulp?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (09:05):

I would say an overweight horse probably doesn't need beet pulp in their diet, but it always depends on the situation because maybe an overweight horse is just getting a ration balance or maybe they're getting a bucket vitamin and mineral supplement and we've gotta put it on something. Well a little bit of wet beet pulp would be ideal for that. So I don't think that there's any horse that absolutely should never eat beet pulp, but there is varying amounts and always depends on the situation.


Katy Starr (09:36):

Right. That famous phrase, it depends right ?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (09:40):

Yes, yes.


Katy Starr (09:40):

And so how do we actually feed beet pulp? Like if we get a bag of pellets or shreds, what do we do with it?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (09:47):

So you just said it, it comes in multiple forms, it can come ground up in pelleted form or that beet pulp is shredded, literally shredded and dried. So we have shred form or pellet form and I always like to wet it because like we've mentioned it increases hydration status of the horse's gut and typically it's about a two to one water to beet pulp ratio. So if you had a cup of beet pulp you would do two cups of water.


Katy Starr (10:19):

And then, you know, we talked about pellets and shreds, what's the difference between the two and why would we choose one over the other?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (10:27):

Sometimes it's personal preference with a horse that had really poor chewing ability, I'm probably leaning more towards the pellets, that's because it's ground up and pressed into a pellet. So when you wet it, if you put enough water in it, it will actually not dissolve but form more of a mash versus the shred would still hold its shape. And if a horse had poor teeth and it may be a little harder for them to eat, but that would really be the difference, for me, would be dentition.


Katy Starr (10:57):

How about beet pulp with molasses and without molasses added?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (11:03):

So molasses is just kind of a rudimentary form. One of the, as we're extracting that sugar out of the sugar beet, we're extracting out the sugar and one form is molasses and sometimes companies will add it back, spray it on the outside of the pellets or onto the shreds. Really, it's to keep the dust down, but that's the main difference. So in the end, the end product that you're feeding to your horse would be the sugar and starch content would be different between molassed versus unmolassed beet pulp. And not every horse needs a low sugar diet. So if you have a performance horse that could stand to eat a few more carbs in their diet for calories and for energy production, then a molassed beet pulp is very palatable and could be a very good for that horse.


Katy Starr (11:55):

So in our Standlee Smart Beet pellets and shreds, we talk about concentrated separator byproduct. People hear that and they're like what is that? So can you share a little bit about what that is and why it's added to the Smart Beet pellets and shreds?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (12:12):

It seems like a scary name, like what on earth is it? It doesn't really describe anything, but if we break it down into the individual sections, it's another byproduct from the sugar beet, right. As we're extracting out all of that sugar and we extract as much out of that juice, we’re sucking as much sugar out of it as we can. And then we have some byproduct leftover, which is liquid but still very low in sugar but it has binding ability. So it's very, very low in sugar content. But because of its binding capacity we will put a little bit of that back onto the pellet, the ground beet pulp when we make a pellet to help it stick together versus using a synthetic binder or another binder from another product. This is actually part of the beet pulp that is very low in sugar and we're putting that back in because we have extracted all of the juice out but we need some of that binding capacity so we put a little bit back so it will help bind that pellet together and we spray a tiny bit onto the shreds as well because again it helps keep the dust down.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (13:34):

I don't know whether I've answered your question, but it's concentrated, it's from the liquid that we've extracted away and then from that liquid we've sucked as much sugar as we can out of it. And so we still have this liquid leftover and this liquid has a very, very, very minute amount of sugar left in it. It's what we can't suck out of it, but it has that binding capacity.


Katy Starr (13:56):

Right. And again, we're utilizing something that's coming from the sugar beet, which is actually a great way to do it.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (14:04):

Exactly. It was part of the beet pulp. So instead of buying, trucking in another different binder we’re utilizing another part of the beet pulp so that again we're just trying to use up as much of the product as we can without having any waste that then you have to get rid of, truck away. That adds cost to the consumer.


Katy Starr (14:28):

Do beet pulp pellets or shreds need to be soaked when we feed them?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (14:33):

Oh and you know this, this is the question that gets the most hate mail, right? Because ultimately if the world was perfect, the answer is no, they don't need to be soaked but the world isn't perfect, right? Horses eat their food quickly, horses are meal fed and the wild horses aren't meal fed, they continually graze. And in those situations where horses are continually grazing and they're not eating their food quickly, then they're just slowly nibbling away at the beet pulp and it's fine. But in the majority of our modern horses today, we're meal feeding them. Most of them eat their food a little more quickly than they should. So ultimately yes, you should wet or soak your beet pulp.


Katy Starr (15:22):

And then like you've talked about before, it's kind of an added benefit, right, to be adding in that water. Yeah, I mean you always like giving 'em water whenever you can.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (15:32):

Absolutely. And especially this time of, well I don't know when you're listening to this podcast, but we're doing it and it's fall. So like I mentioned that impaction colic risk going up in the wintertime, a lot of people like to do a mash and I hear a lot, well we do a wheat bran mash and we do it once a week and we add carrots and apples. You know, wheat bran can have as high as 30% sugars and starches in it. So if you're worried about sugars and starches, I would not be feeding wheat brand. The other thing is it's got a lot of non-digestible fiber in it and whatever you do, make sure you're doing it every day, not just one day a week because that's a rapid feeding change. So ideally because beet pulp has so many benefits, calorie content, holds water to put in the gut, as well as feeding all the good bugs in the hindgut, then I would choose beet pulp before I chose wheat brand any day of the week.


Katy Starr (16:26):

And you talked about, since you mentioned it, you talked about really the important thing is that consistency as well. Instead of, you know, randomly doing it once a week, the gut needs to have that consistency to stay healthy.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (16:39):

Absolutely, yes. You eat every day; your horse needs to eat every day.


Katy Starr (16:43):

Another common question that we hear a lot is should beet pulp be rinsed. And why or why not?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (16:49):

If you are buying a molassed last beet pulp but you really didn't want the molasses, then rinse it and you will rinse away that molasses that was sprayed onto the outside. Once you've done that and you've rinsed away, then I would put more water on it and feed it soaked. But that becomes personal preference as to what do you wanna get out. If you wanna rinse it, you can rinse it. If it's a non-molassed beet pulp and you just wanna soak it and feed it to your horse, that's perfect. But if you wanna rinse it, rinse it.


Katy Starr (17:25):

So really, I mean everybody just needs to kinda look at their end game, right? What is their goal with their horse and what are they trying to accomplish?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (17:33):

That is 100% what people need to do. You need to get off Facebook and get off all of the chat groups and asking everybody else what they do because ultimately they don't have your horse, they don't have your end goal, they don't have your farm or your facilities or your management or your budget. So the first thing you have to ask yourself is why am I feeding it and what do I wanna get out of it? What does my horse need? Okay. From there I will make a decision on what I need to do. And just because my neighbor doesn't do that or the horse in the in the stall next to me doesn't do that, it doesn't mean that you are right and they're wrong or they're right and you are wrong. It just means you are doing the best thing for your horse.


Katy Starr (18:18):

And I think that's something to really keep in mind because people can really get caught up in that. And I would say especially like beginning horse owners, but even seasoned ones will kind of get caught up in that game.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (18:29):

Yeah and everybody is, if you go on any of the chat groups or Facebook, there's always someone yelling behind their keyboard at how bad everybody else is, but they don't walk a centimeter in your shoes. They have no idea what you are doing with your horse or what your horse’s medical or nutritional or physiological needs are. So whilst a new horse owner might ask questions, be careful as a person answering those questions that you're not just spewing out information that may or not may not be relevant.


Katy Starr (19:06):

Absolutely. And making sure that you have a really good relationship with your veterinarian and your nutritionist if you can because those are people that really can get to know your horse in the situation and give some really valid and good advice. And then if someone is in an area with a hay shortage, and this has kind of been a common experience the last few years, but particularly this year, you know, struggling with the drought andthe hay shortage, could beet pulp be fed to help extend their supply, their hay supply or even as a sole fiber source?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (19:42):

And this is a great question because beet pulp we feed it in a bucket and typically goes with the other concentrated feeds or grains that we're feeding in our minds we think about it like a grain that we feed the horses but it's not, it's a fiber source, but it kind of crosses into the grain world because it has a higher calorie content than other fiber sources. But ultimately it's a fiber source. I would never feed it as the sole fiber source for multiple reasons. And that is the primary one is it's so quickly consumed and digested so you're gonna end up with gastric ulcers or any other number of things because horses are standing around wasting with nothing to chew on. Long stem fiber is always the best if it can be consumed by the horse, i.e. they have good teeth, or you can get it in your area.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (20:38):

So if I had really poor-quality hay and I say poor low nutritional value hay, but that's the base of my hay plan and I know it's really low in protein and it's low in nutrients and it's probably pretty high in non-digestible fiber so they're not getting a lot out of it. Would I add beet pulp? Yes. If the horse needs a lot of extra calories then beet pulp would surely be something that I would add in as a part of the plan. But like I have said earlier, I don't wanna just feed one single fiber source. I would add some beet pulp, I would add some alfalfa pellets if the horse needs extra calories or protein, I would add a timothy pellet or another type of forage pellet to extend my hay supply. I would try not to use beet pulp as my sole fiber source because it is so rapidly digestible that the bugs are gonna start craving some of that more non-digestible fiber.


Katy Starr (21:38):

And can you share an example with our listeners of a diet that includes beet pulp and how would you feed it along with forage and you know, other concentrates, feeds or anything like that?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (21:52):

Well because you're feeding it and you're most often soaking it or putting it in a bucket, then it tends to be fed around those meal times versus a hay you feed in large quantities all day long. But I have a lot of people that might do a beet pulp meal for lunchtime. So I'm, I'm gonna do my soaked beet pulp at lunchtime. I've got people that will add soaked to be pulp into their grain concentrate or their concentrate cuz you know, some concentrates don't have any grain in them. I know that beet pulp actually is a component in a lot of high fat and fiber concentrates you can buy from the store. I might, if I had a horse that had that was going to more of a forage-based diet or I was trying to correct some hindgut issue, do a mixture of alfalfa pellets and beet pulp and timothy pellets and mix it all up with some water and feed that at the end of the day or throughout the day. I mean I can't really say this is exactly how you would do it but there are so many, again it depends on your management, your budget and your horse's goals and your goals as to when and how I would feed it and if I would feed it.


Katy Starr (23:09):

And if someone actually wanted to add beet pulp into their horse's diet, what would be the best way to add that in? I mean you talked about maybe doing like a lunch meal or something like that but their question is like how much do I feed them? Like what do I start with? They don't even know where to start.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (23:26):

Yeah and really just like anything else that you, when you're adding it to the diet, you wanna do it slowly because it is rapidly fermented, and the bugs need to get used to that type of fiber. So don't just throw in a bunch of beet pulp because your horse will probably get diarrhea. But if you start out with a cup of dry beet pulp and then you wet it and then maybe you build up to a couple of cups, to get significant weight gain from beet pulp, you're looking at feeding five pounds of dry beet pulp a day, which you're wetting. And then if it's a two to one then we're looking at like 15 pounds of wet beet pulp a day. So that can be pretty hard to get a horse to eat that much. So most people are feeding anywhere from a cup to a pound of dry beet pulp a day, which then they’re wetting with however much water they wanna put with it.


Katy Starr (24:18):

Okay. And then do you have a max that you would recommend, you know, don't feed more than this amount?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (24:26):

Not really.


Katy Starr (24:28):

Not really. Okay. Would you replace part of the forage in their diet with the beet pulp or would it be added in addition to?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (24:36):

Again it depends on the horse. I mean if we've got a thinner horse or a horse that burns a lot of calories, then I'm just adding it on top of, if we've got a fat horse that I'm worried about him getting even fatter, but I want him to have the benefits of beet pulp, then I might replace some of his other fiber in his diet. So if I put in a pound of beet pulp, I might take out a pound of hay.


Katy Starr (24:58):

So when we're talking about like that overweight horse for example, we have that one and a half to two and a half percent of body weight, we need to feed that of fiber in their diet. So for them they're probably gonna be on the lower end, right? If they're overweight. So then that would be a replacement part of that percentage?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (25:19):

Yes, yes.


Katy Starr (25:19):

Perfect, perfect. Okay, that's super helpful. And then I should say, I talked about a few things that people commonly ask. This is another very common question. Can it swell in a horse's stomach and cause it to burst?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (25:34):

No. And the reason is when you, so the mindset is, oh my god, I just put beet pulp, a cup or beet pulp in a bucket and then I put two cups of water in there and it sucked it up like crazy and now it's filling the whole bucket when before it was a cup. Why it won't do that in the horse's stomach, there's not that much stomach juice in the horse's stomach. There's not that much juice in the stomach to start with. So beet pulp will absorb and swell but there's not enough liquid in the horse's stomach and the rate of passage out of the stomach is so quick, 15 to 30 minutes and it's out of the stomach so it doesn't have time. Right. So it just physically won't do it.


Katy Starr (26:22):

And then how would you compare, cause some people ask sometimes like how would you compare alfalfa pellets to beet pulp pellets? Right? The alfalfa also, it has a higher calorie content than a lot of other forage sources. But if somebody was looking to add one of those to the diet, which one would be better to add in which situation? Or maybe both?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (26:47):

Beet pulp 1.2 mega cals per pound, alfalfa pellets 1 mega cal per pound. But then if we look at other things like crude protein, so in an alfalfa pellet we're looking from anywhere from 15 to 17% crude protein and it's really good quality protein. It's high in that essential amino acid lysine, which is really critical. But if we're looking at the crude protein content of beet pulp anywhere from on the low end 7% to an average of 9% crude protein. So if we need more protein cause we want the animal to be, is growing or lactating, then we are leaning towards the alfalfa knowing it is giving you a little less calories. So I probably have to feed a little bit more of it if I want the calories and the protein. If we're not so concerned about the protein, maybe we've got a mature horse and we just wanted the calories and the hindgut health, but we didn't need lots of extra protein, then maybe we would be leaning towards the beet pulp. Again, it all depends on your situation and what your goal is from feeding it.


Katy Starr (28:03):

Right. And someone mentioned that beet pulp was a sugar filled filler is beet pulp high in sugar?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (28:11):

No, I'm giggling because the whole point of the sugar beet industry is to suck all the sugar out and sell it to humans so that we can put it in everything that we eat from bread to ketchup to crazy things that we don't even think have sugar in them all have sugar in them. So the beet pulp industry or the sugar beet industry doesn't want to waste sugar on horses or cows that are eating the beet pulp. Right? They can sell it at a premium to the human food industry. That's where all the sugar goes. It's in their best interest to suck as much sugar out of it as they possibly can so that they can sell it at a premium into the human food industry. So beef pulp is not high in sugar cause it's all been sucked out. So again, this is a great question though because there's lots of different companies out there that sell beet pulp.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (29:11):

How do you choose? Ultimately if you are concerned about the amount of sugar and starch in the foods that you're feeding your horses or in the diet because you have a horse that's laminitic or overweight or has PSSM or some other kind of metabolic disorder, then you should find out from the manufacturer or the seller of your product, what is the sugar and starch content. If it's not written on the label, it doesn't mean that it's not in there. Call them up and find out what it is. If they won't tell you, I probably wouldn't feed that product anymore. But again, that being said, there is a vast majority of horses that the carbohydrate or sugar and starch content doesn't really matter. But the original question was, is it a sugar filled filler? Number one, no, it's not sugar filled and it's not a filler because it is a excellent fiber source for promoting the microbiome health in the hindgut. And if you read anything about gastrointestinal health in humans or horses or cattle or sheep or pigs or any other animal that eats food, the microbiome and gastrointestinal health is the most important thing that we are talking about right now. And so feeding it and keeping it healthy with things like beet pulp and other great fiber sources, that's really important. It's not a filler.


Katy Starr (30:36):

And one thing, so you mentioned, you know, if you're concerned with like sugars and starches for your horse in particular. One thing I wanna bring up again, and I know we've talked about this before, but I think sometimes people forget, and this is why it's so good to work with an equine nutritionist because they have this in mind when they're balancing the diet, is don't get so stuck on also looking at one thing that you're feeding your horse and seeing how high the NSC percent is or whatever. But understanding what is this all totaled in the diet for your forage, for your concentrate, for your beet pulp? All of it. Right? Can you speak to that just a little bit? Cause I wanna make sure that people remember that.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (31:22):

Absolutely. So it is, if you've read or you have a horse that you need to keep the diet low in sugars and starches because they've got a diagnosed metabolic or medical issue, you've certainly heard the percentage of 10% or less non-structural carbohydrates, that's in the total diet. So we take everything combined, the hay, the concentrate, any other, anything you're feeding and you add it all together and combined the whole thing needs to be less than 10%. The largest quantity of anything that you feed your horse, is the hay, right? So first thing is you need to make sure that you're getting the hay tested because you could be feeding 15 to 25 pounds of hay to your horse a day that's gonna make or break a diet. So that's really where we need to make sure the sugars and starches are low when it comes to the other things that you're supplementing into the diet, whether it be an electrolyte supplement or a fat supplement or a small amount of beet pulp or your concentrate that you're feeding.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (32:28):

Make sure that you look at how much you're actually feeding. If you're feeding a cup of beet pulp a day and it says it's, and the company you're buying from, it's 15% sugars and starches. A cup of beet pulp, I think weighs maybe about four ounces, four to six ounces, not very heavy at all. And then you're gonna wet it. So four to six ounces at 15% in the grand scheme of your whole diet is really not much. So make sure that the things that are your feeding and the highest quantities, that's where we really need to be keeping the sugars and starches low. And then the rest of it just make sure combined, we're not adding it all up that it's over 10%. So yes, you are right, it's the total diet.


Katy Starr (33:20):

Right. Excellent, thank you. And another question that we've heard people ask about is, does beet pulp contain the leaves and can it cause oxalate poisoning?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (33:32):

No, it doesn't contain the leaves and no, no on the oxalate poisoning.


Katy Starr (33:36):

Can beet pulp clear sand from a horse's gut?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (33:40):

I would not use it as a means of clearing sand from the horse's gut. I would use more of the psyllium-based products that are gonna really form a gel and clear all of that sand out.


Katy Starr (33:55):

So does it stick to it better then?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (33:58):

Yeah, thepsyllium-basedgels, yes.


Katy Starr (34:01):

And then last question I think I wanna ask today is, I don't hear this often, but I have heard people ask about, and maybe it's because of the excess calories that they're feeding to a horse that doesn't need it, but can feeding beet pulp make a horse, quote unquote hot or crazy?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (34:19):

Feeding any additional calories that the horse doesn't need? They're either gonna get laid down as fat or turned into kind of behavioral energy. Typically beet pulp is not one. You know, being that it's not high in sugars, we're not really altering their behavior in that way. But yeah, if your horse ate a bunch of beat pulp and doesn't do any exercise and it's already fat and you said, oh, he was a little hot today, I'm not gonna say that that is absolutely impossible, but it's not common. It's a calm, slow-release type of energy.


Katy Starr (34:55):

We've talked, I think, about a number of different great things today on this episode, but what are a few key takeaways that you would like to leave our listeners with about feeding beet pulp?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (35:06):

I think before you decide whether you're gonna add it to your diet, you have to really sit down with your team members, i.e. your veterinarian, maybe your nutritionist, your trainer, and decide, what are my goals for my horse? Then we decide what are the goals for my feeding program with my horse, with my training program? And is beet pulp something that I should be adding into the diet? Is it something that I need? And then if we decide, yes, it's kind of like a flow diagram, then how much do we feed based on the program and the management? When are we gonna do it? Are we gonna do it at night or in the morning? I do always recommend that you wet it. Do you need to rinse it? That's personal preference really. But as far as wetting it for the numerous reasons I said, whether you're adding it in the in the winter to get more moisture into the horse’s gut, then I always do recommend to wet it. Molassed, non-molassed, depends on the horse and the goals for your horse, but it is a super fiber, it's really highly digestible and it really does feed those gut bugs.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (36:11):

So like I said, it has been considered a prebiotic by many.


Katy Starr (36:16):

Excellent. Well, thank you so much Dr. Cubitt. I know this is a topic that everybody is super interested in hearing more about, and so I hope our listeners found some value in our conversation today. And again, to our listeners, we love hearing from you. So please let us know what you think about these episodes. If you listen via Apple, please leave us a review because that helps other people discover us and allows us to help other people better feed their horses. And give us a shout at if you have any topic ideas that you would like to hear from us in the future. So until next time, Dr. Cubitt, thanks again for being here.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (37:00):

Thank you.


Katy Starr (37:02):

Thanks for listening to The Beyond the Barn podcast by Standlee Forage. We'd love for you to share our podcast with your favorite people and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite listening platform. Until next time, keep your cinch tight and don't forget to turn off the water.


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