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Beet Pulp Vs. Hay (Not Cubes)

I apologize if this has been addressed before, but for the life of me I have not been able to find a thread that is not compared to cubes.

So to get to the question my guy (17 year old, 1,100 lb, OTTB, mid-hard keeper) needs some extra weight before winter and I am curious about peoples’ opinions on feeding beet pulp vs extra hay. Right now he is on stall rest at a boarding barn and only receives the all to common 4 flakes (roughly 2-3 lbs per flake) a day of a timothy/orchard (not a hit on the barn) along with 5 lbs (when dry) of BP and 10 lbs Triple crown senior. I want to increase his forage portion so that he is up to at least the 20% forage mark.

Would you suggest

  1. Changing him over to more hay and less BP?
  2. Just adding extra hay to his diet?

Also would you recommend alfalfa mix, grass hay, etc?

And why?

Thank you in advance!

Extra hay, as much as he will eat. The long stem digestion is good for gut health as well.

I would add at least another flake of the tim/orch hay at each feeding if that is an option. If he cleans all of it up for a week then add another flake at each feeding.

I’m guessing the 5# dry beet pulp is per day so 2.5# per feeding. You could bump that up a 1/2 pound at each feeding, more if extra hay rations is not an option.

Have you read Susan Evans Garlinghouse, DVM website on beet pulp and it benefits?? It’s an oldie but the gold standard on feeding BP.

You’re really talking about only 8-12lb of regular hay a day? For an 1100lb horse who should be getting in the range of 22lb?

No brainer - more hay.

Use whatever hay he likes and you can afford.

5lb of beep, then soaked, is a huge volume. Is it only that much because you’ve been trying to put/keep weight on him?

I would reduce the beep while increasing the hay, so that he’ll have time and desire to eat more hay.

I am not a fan of beet pulp. I did not notice a difference with it. Just lots of hay. I would speak with the feed rep at your feed store they can put you on the right track. I use purina and had a free barn call for him to to look at my mare and what to do as far as feed. She is older and last year was the first year i could not get weight on. I talk to the rep about twice a year.

More “good quality” hay and/or soaked alfalfa, hay cubes. We’re seeing GREAT results with hay cubes for our older horses, plus unlimited grass/hay/twice daily beet pulp.

TC Sr is Beet pulp and Alfalfa based. I don’t have a nice Timothy hay or tim blend hay available so my choices are grass hay and tim/alfalfa cubes ~ 5 lbs and 10 lbs of the TC Sr. When it is really really cold we double the grass hay, bump up the soaked cubes a little, and it seems to work.

As to why I don’t use the Beet pulp anymore, it has too much volume to weight to have value for a picky eater like my old guy. I’ve got to have something more calorically dense, not his version of a rice cake.

more hay, and a hay that is more nutritionally dense, like alfalfa.
The beet pulp article on Susan Garlinghouse’s site is actually a copy of the work done by Dr Laurie Warren, and I have heard her in person, speak on many equine nutritional issues, including that paper on beet pulp
Beetpulp is halfway between grain and forage, far as an energy feed, but is digested like forage and has a fiber that is very easy to digest, thus not only provides extra calories without the risk associated with hot calories, but also improves the efficiency of digestion
You can also add cool calories in the form of flax
Yes, the fiber in many senior feeds is beet pulp It is more calorie dense then hay, and why it is used to put weight onto senior horses, as many senior horses have metabolic issues that preclude feeding NSC dense feed, like grain, with grain being grain, and not some bag of feed
According to Dr Lori Warren, beet pulp can be fed up to 40% of a horse’s forage ration
Mine are all easy keepers, so I only feed enough soaked beet pulp to act as something to add any special supplements into.

A horse on box rest should be on adlib hay and certainly not so much concentrate feed. Reduce his hard feed, but up the Sugarbeet, adding chaff as well to open up the mix to make it better for the horses digestive system.

Any horse boxed for some time needs to be able to pick all day, most horses will do really well on adlib quality meadow hay

Because TC Sr is forage-based and doesn’t contain any grains (distillers grains is the closest it comes, and that’s after most of the sugar has been removed), there’s no problem with a stalled horse eating that much concentrate. It’s a complete feed, which means it could be ALL a horse has to eat if he can’t eat hay.

When a horse needs to gain weight, it can sometimes be difficult to impossible to do that with only free choice/all you can eat forage, so you then have to add concentrates in whatever amount it takes

Thank you all!!!
I ended up going with option 1, and buying some nice alfalfa bales and giving him an extra five pounds of that on top of what he is already getting to start off.

Madi, I did speak with a feed rep, actually several from different feed companies as well as some of the equine nutrition teachers at my college before switching him to the TC because of the low NSC and the fact that it was alfalfa and BP based. =) Everyone just seems to have their own opinions on BP versus hay and I curious to see what people on here thought would be the better forage option.

KIloBright and JB both of your posts mirror what I had come up with in all of the research that I did when I started changing his diet! We don’t have incredibly nutritious hay available in our area (south Alabama) and alfalfa is expensive and hard to come by which is partly why I had him on the BP. I also chose BP for the reason that it is more calorically dense, had a low NSC, and also counted as a long stem forage for digestion. Just as a side note his meals are spread out to reduce the volume he takes in at one time and he devours the beet pulp when it is mixed with his food!

With the ration talked about above he often wouldn’t even finish the hay that was put in front of him (good quality timothy/orchard) and with the addition of a slow hay net the four flakes would last him a good chunk of time.

Hay cubes aren’t really an option because after they are soaked he has no interest in them and they will go sour before he will touch them, even when they are straight alfalfa.