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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Boarding Barn Feeding

Dear Dr. Getty,

I recently e-mailed you regarding feed programs for a boarding barn. You gave me a few feed suggestions such as Triple Crown Low-Starch and Safechoice. When I originally wrote you, I was looking for a beet pulp based pellet because I have read only good things about beet pulp and several of my boarders use it in soaked format - which is a messy process (buckets must be cleaned constantly, walls are all slop'd up, flys are attracked to the residue left behind after feeding, etc....

The Triple Crown has beet pulp ingredients and does not indicate corn specific on the label but says "Distillers Dried Grains" what does this mean exactly? Also, the Safechoice doesn't show beet pulp at all as an ingredient and specifically shows corn as an ingredient which I have heard should not be fed to horses unless they are race horses and need the exrta energy.

If I use the Safechoice should I consider adding beet pump (shredded or pellet) I know you stated that there is no reason to soak beet pulp prior to feeding but the bags all say to soak. Is there a recognized research source or articles that actually explain why it's ok to feed beet pulp without soaking? I have no doubt that my boarders who currently use and soak beet pulp would need something substantial to support the
"No Need To Soak Theory" and I want to get away from all the soaking messes with all the horses in the barn.

Thank you for nay help.

Where are you from? Florida

How did you locate this forum? google

Re: Boarding Barn Feeding

Hi Patty,

Distiller's Grains are not grain and are very nutritious and safe for horses. Here is the definition:

Distillers Grains
Distillers grains has a long history of being recognized as a highly nutritious animal feed ingredient. Unique in that it is the only fermented feed ingredient from the dry mill fuel or beverage ethanol process.

Its outstanding features are:

Starch Removed
Fermentation Process
High Fiber
Dried Yeast Cell Content
All Natural Process
FDA Food Grade
Highly Digestible Protein(85%)
Concentrated Grain Nutrients
Bypass Protein
Essential Minerals

Regarding Safe Choice -- it really depends on what part of the country it is made -- I notice that some labels contain corn and others do not. Plus, they will not divulge their exact ingredients. Therefore
I prefer Triple Crown Low starch.

Regarding soaking Beet Pulp... I've printed an article below that was published in a recent issue of "The Horse" that talks about how to feed beet pulp and the myths surrounding it, including how it is not necessary to soak it. You certainly can, but I prefer not to, and most horses enjoy it more dry because they like to chew! I prefer the shredded rather than pellets. Horses are more prone to choke on any type of pellet, not just beet pulp pellets.

Ask The Vet

Feeding Beet Pulp
by: Karen Briggs
May 1999 Article # 314

Article Tools

I’ve been told I should feed beet pulp to help put weight on my skinny Thoroughbred. But I’m worried about the stories I’ve heard about beet pulp expanding in the horse’s stomach and causing colic -- or worse! Is beet pulp a good addition to my horse’s diet, and if so, how can I feed it safely?

Beet pulp is the fibrous material left over after the sugar is extracted from sugar beets. It’s an excellent source of digestible fiber, with a relatively low crude protein content (averaging 8 to 10%), comparable to good-quality grass hay. Its digestible energy is somewhere between that of hay and grain. In terms of other nutrients, it’s not a stand-out—it has a relatively high calcium content and very little phosphorus, is low in B vitamins, and has virtually no beta-carotene (the precursor of vitamin A) or vitamin D. Its chief value is as a soft, easily digestible supplement to your horse’s roughage (fiber) intake, and as such it’s a useful addition to the diet of many types of horses.

Consider feeding beet pulp if your horse is a "hard keeper" (it’s very good for encouraging weight gain), if he has dental problems that make chewing hay difficult, if the quality of your hay is poor, or if you have a geriatric horse who has trouble chewing or digesting other types of forage. It can be fed in addition to, or instead of, hay. Beet pulp’s excellent digestibility also makes it a great choice for a convalescing horse—one recovering from illness or surgery, for example. It even can be fed warm in the winter months, just like a bran mash (and nutritionally, it’s a better choice than bran). Most horses find it quite palatable, although occasionally you’ll come across one who considers it an acquired taste.

In its original format, beet pulp is quite soft and prone to mold, so it must be dried for storage. You can buy dehydrated beet pulp in either a shredded or a pelleted format; either way, it’s grayish-brown in color and has a slight but distinctive odor you’ll come to recognize. Some companies add a touch of dried molasses to improve its palatability and energy content. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to soak beet pulp in water to feed it safely to horses—studies in which horses were fed dehydrated beet pulp, up to a level of 45% of their total diet, noted no ill effects whatsoever. Not only did the horses not "explode" (thus laying that myth to rest!), but they also suffered no signs of colic or choke, nor did the water content in their manure change. But most people prefer to soak beet pulp; it’s more palatable that way, and less likely to cause choke if horses tend to bolt their food.

To soak beet pulp, place the shreds or pellets in a bucket and add twice as much water as pellets. You can use cool or warm water; some people feel it soaks a little more quickly using warm, but be careful not to use water so hot that you cook the beet pulp, because that will destroy most of the nutrients it contains. Let the bucket sit for at least a couple of hours before feeding; when ready, the beet pulp should have soaked up all of the water, increased in volume to fill the bucket, and be light and fluffy in consistency. (If you use beet pulp pellets, it’s easy to tell whether it has been soaked sufficiently, because there will be nothing left that resembles a pellet.) It’s not necessary to soak it overnight. If you use extra water, don’t worry; you can always drain it off before you feed, or you can feed the beet pulp on the "sloppy" side.

Although most horses will eat beet pulp on its own, its appeal will be improved if you stir it into your horse’s regular grain ration. As with any new addition to the diet, start with only a small quantity and gradually increase the amount you’re feeding over a period of a week or so. Because beet pulp is really a fiber supplement, not a grain, you can safely feed as much as you like; if weight gain is the objective, you may find yourself going through a gallon or more a day. Fortunately, beet pulp is a relatively inexpensive feed, so you don’t have to be sparing with it.

It’s best to make up beet pulp in small batches—just enough to feed in a single day. In the hot summer months, especially, soaked beet pulp left to sit tends to ferment, significantly changing its odor and flavor. If this happens, it’s best to throw it out and make a fresh batch. Generally soaked beet pulp will keep for about 24 hours; in the winter, you may be able to stretch that to 48 hours or so.

I use beet pulp consistently in my own feeding program, both for my "bottomless pit" Thoroughbred and for my 28-year-old pony. It’s an inexpensive, versatile feed with a number of benefits which easily outweigh the minor inconvenience of preparing it.

Also, here is a link that you may find interesting:

Hope this helps!

Dr. Getty