Beet pulp for weight loss

Beet pulp is manufactured in two forms: pelleted and shredded (seen here soaked).

Photo: The Horse Staff

You hear about owners feeding it to their underweight or aging horses. You see fellow boarders at the barn scooping it into buckets for soaking. But what is this stuff, and does your horse need it? 

Beet pulp, a byproduct of the sugar beet industry, has long been a part of equine feed regimens, but that doesn’t mean owners don’t have questions about it. So we’ve compiled your most common inquiries and called on Kelly Vineyard, MS, PhD, research equine nutritionist at Purina Animal Nutrition, and Kristen M. Janicki, MS, PAS, an equine nutritionist based in Nicholasville, Kentucky, to provide some answers.

1. What does beet pulp do for a horse? 

Beet pulp is a low-cost, highly digestible form of fiber (greater than or equal to that of most hays) that offers many nutritional benefits for horses. The microbes in the horse’s hindgut can easily ferment and use it for energy production, Vineyard says. 

“(Beet pulp’s) energy value is higher than that of alfalfa pellets and is close to rivaling oats’ value,” Janicki says. “Therefore, it is a great source of fiber for hindgut health and calories for added body condition or fuel for performance.”

Vineyard says the fiber in beet pulp also absorbs and holds water well, making soaked beet pulp an efficient way to increase a horse’s water consumption.

2. What types of horses might benefit from consuming beet pulp?

Beet pulp can be incorporated in the diets of horses with many different needs. Both nutritionists say it can be used as:

  • A fiber source for horses with poor teeth. “Soaked beet pulp makes a good forage substitute because it is easier to chew than long-stem hay,” Vineyard says. 
  • A forage extender during hay shortages.
  • A digestive health aid for horses experiencing digestive upset.
  • A method of adding body condition to a hard keeper. “Replacing an equal amount (in weight) of hay with beet pulp will result in weight gain due to its higher calorie content,” Vineyard says.
  • A good feed ingredient for horses sensitive to sugar or starch (e.g., insulin-resistant, or IR, horses). “Beet pulp is relatively low in sugar and starch and has a low glycemic index,” she says, “meaning there is only a small rise in blood glucose following a meal.”

3. How do you know what amount of beet pulp to feed? How much can I substitute for other feedstuffs?

The amount you feed depends on its purpose in the horse’s diet (whether you’re supplementing or replacing grain and/or forage). Janicki notes that researchers have safely fed up to 55% of a horse’s total ration in beet pulp—that’s equivalent to approximately 12 pounds of dry beet pulp per day for a 1,100-pound horse!

“However, care should be taken when feeding more than 2-3 pounds/day of beet pulp that the overall nutrient balance of the diet is not disrupted due to some of beet pulp’s nutritional deficits (we’ll describe these in a bit),” Vineyard cautions. 

Regardless the amount you feed, always weigh it first. Introduce beet pulp into the diet slowly, Janicki says, and increase the amount gradually depending on the individual horse and desired body condition. 

4. Does it matter whether you feed shredded or pelleted beet pulp?

The two forms of beet pulp on the market are shredded (available with or without molasses) and pelleted (typically containing a small amount of molasses to help bind the particles). Both forms are safe for horses, but the shreds tend to soak up water faster than pellets, Vineyard says.

“Molasses content may be a decisive factor in choosing the form of beet pulp to feed, especially with horses needing a low-sugar diet (as with IR) or a low-potassium diet (e.g., horses with hyperkalemic periodic paralysis or HYPP),” Janicki says.

5. Must beet pulp be mixed with other feeds? 

“Beet pulp can be treated as any other forage ingredient,” Vineyard says. “It can be fed alone or along with the grain ration, depending on what makes the most sense for a particular horse and management situation.” Janicki says it’s palatable enough, however, that most horses consume it readily without additives.

6. What if I’m trying to add beet pulp to my horse’s diet and he doesn’t want to eat it? 

If your horse is a picky eater, you can soak his beet pulp or mix it dry with his grain or with a small amount of oil, such as corn or soybean oil, Janicki says. 

Vineyard suggests that when introducing beet pulp for the first time, do so in small quantities. You might also consider purchasing a molasses-added (“molassed”) variety.

“The molasses application rate is typically less than 5% and is added to increase the palatability of the beet pulp shreds while reducing dust content,” Vineyard says. “The addition of molasses will increase the overall sugar content of the beet pulp by only approximately 2%; therefore, adding the molasses does not result in a great increase in overall sugar intake. Adding molasses to dried beet pulp shreds increases the palatability and helps to stimulate saliva production when the horse consumes it, which makes it a good choice for picky eaters. However, if a horse has true sugar/starch sensitivities, the nonmolassed variety of beet pulp would be a better choice.”

7. Why do some people soak beet pulp? What’s the best approach?

“There is a long-standing myth that beet pulp must be soaked prior to feeding to prevent choke (esophageal obstruction),” Janicki says. “However, horses can choke on any type or form of feed if they eat too fast—beet pulp itself will not cause a horse to choke.”

Case in point: Feed companies include beet pulp in many grain formulations that do not require soaking prior to consumption. 

Vineyard, on the other hand, is more inclined to soak beet pulp to reduce the risk of choke and improve the feedstuff’s palatability: “Despite the fact that some horses seem to tolerate dry beet pulp with no complications, I always recommend that plain beet pulp be soaked if more than 1-2 pounds are fed in a meal. The amount of water to add and length of time to soak beet pulp is dependent on several factors; some horses prefer less water, while some like it soupy.”

Measure your mixture at a ratio of two parts cool or warm water to one part beet pulp in a bucket or large container, Janicki suggests. Then soak the beet pulp until it absorbs the liquid—usually somewhere from 15 minutes to a couple of hours. (Remember that shreds soak faster than pellets.) 

“The length of time to soak will depend on the specific type of beet pulp, climate, management routine, etc.,” Vineyard says. “Beet pulp only needs to be soaked long enough for it to become soft.”

8. What’s the best way to tell if soaked beet pulp is spoiled?

“The amount of time it takes for beet pulp to start to mold is dependent on the environmental conditions and amount being soaked, and the best method to determine this is by smell,” Janicki says. Throw away any moldy, fermented, or sour-smelling beet pulp.

“Soaked beet pulp can sit in a cooler environment for 12 or more hours with little risk of spoilage,” Vineyard explains. “However, spoilage could easily occur during this time frame in a hot/humid environment.”

9. What are the best ways to work with soaked beet pulp during cold and hot temperature extremes?

Soaking beet pulp can prove troublesome during winter months in freezing temperatures. The first solution is not to store the soaked beet pulp container on the ground. “Usually the coldest temperatures are found lower to the ground, and elevating it might prevent it from freezing,” Janicki says. Also, the pulp absorbs warm water more quickly than cold, so if possible add warm water to the mix to expedite soaking time and reduce chances of freezing, she says.

In summer months, on the other hand, soak and store beet pulp in a cool, dry location inaccessible to horses, such as a feed room. To help keep it safe from insects and rodents, find a way to cover the container that still allows for air movement while soaking (e.g., using a hand towel or a flymask).

In weather extremes Vineyard suggests feeding smaller quantities without soaking or waiting until just before feeding to add water to the shredded form. “Alternatively, there are commercial feeds that contain a large proportion of beet pulp and do not need to be soaked before feeding,” she says.

10. Are there any negative effects to feeding beet pulp?

Drawbacks of feeding beet pulp, according to Janicki and Vineyard, include:

  • High levels of potassium, if it contains molasses, for HYPP horses;
  • High nonstructural carbohydrate levels, if it contains molasses, for those horses needing a low-sugar/starch diet;
  • An increased risk of choke when fed dry and in large amounts; and
  • Nutrient imbalances when feeding large amounts of plain beet pulp without adjusting the rest of the diet accordingly.

11. Do I need to balance beet pulp with other cereal grains? 

Although beet pulp is a valuable feed ingredient, it falls short in several areas as a “standalone” feed, Vineyard says. 

For instance, beet pulp contains, on average, 10% crude protein. “This should be taken into consideration when balancing the total diet for protein, especially in young, growing horses when specific amino acids, such as lysine, are required for proper growth and development,” Janicki says. Vineyard suggests ensuring additional sources of high-quality protein are available to growing and performing horses. 

Further, beet pulp’s calcium to phosphorus ratio is 10:1 (the recommended ratio is 2:1). “If the low phosphorus content of beet pulp is not accounted for, developmental and other serious problems can occur,” Vineyard says, especially in growing animals. To keep the optimal ratio, Janicki says owners must feed beet pulp with grains or provide a supplemental source of phosphorus in the diet. She says you also need to add such a phosphorus source if you feed beet pulp along with legume hay (such as alfalfa), which has higher calcium levels than grass forages. A hay analysis will help you determine nutrient content, and an equine nutritionist can advise you on balancing your horse’s ration.

Finally, Vineyard says beet pulp is a poor source of trace minerals and contains low levels of antioxidant vitamins A and E. “In a diet that contains a significant proportion of beet pulp (more than 2-3 pounds per day), having a ration analysis performed will help determine the best way to balance the overall diet,” she says.

About the Author

Alexandra Beckstett, The Horse Managing Editor

Alexandra Beckstett, Managing Editor of The Horse and a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as Assistant Editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse.

Beet pulp is a byproduct from the processing of sugar beet which is used as fodder for horses and other livestock. Beet pulp is the fibrous material left over after the sugar is extracted from sugar beets. It is supplied either as dried flakes or as compressed pellets, but when fed to horses it is usually soaked in water first.


Despite being a byproduct of sugar beet processing, beet pulp itself is low in sugar and other non-structural carbohydrates, but high in energy and fiber. Among other nutrients, it contains 10 percent protein, 0.8 percent calcium and 0.5 percent phosphorus. It has no Vitamin A, so additional forage or supplementation is required to provide complete nutrition.

8,5′-Diferulic acid is the predominant diferulic acid in sugar beet pulp.

Sometimes molasses is added to improve palatability.


Beet pulp is usually fed to horses in addition to hay, but occasionally is a replacement for hay when fed to very old horses who can no longer chew properly. A standard ration of beet pulp for horses is usually 2 to 5 pounds (0.9 to 2.3 kg) dry weight. Before feeding to horses, beet pulp is usually soaked in water, at a ratio of one part pulp to about four parts water. The maximum amount of water is absorbed after three to four hours, but it may be soaked for as little as one to two hours, especially in hot weather when there is a risk of fermentation. Most commercial feeds designed for geriatric horses contain large amounts of beet pulp and are fed straight out of the bag without being soaked, and manufacturer’s directions generally recommend giving such feeds dry unless the horse has dental issues that make chewing difficult.

Beet pulp is not usually soaked before feeding to cattle or sheep.

Safety issues

Some horse owners express two concerns about feeding dry, unsoaked beet pulp, one being that it is linked to choke. Any dry feed may cause choke, especially if the horse does not have free access to water, or if the horse has other risk factors linked to choking, such as a tendency to bolt its food. However, while horses have choked on beet pulp, university studies have not documented that beet pulp is a particular problem. It is believed that choke related to beet pulp is linked to the particle size and the horse’s aggressive feeding behaviour, rather than the actual feed itself. Nonetheless, the risk of choke associated with any dry feed, including beet pulp, can be reduced by soaking the ration prior to feeding.

Another concern expressed by horse owners is that dry beet pulp will absorb water and swell in a horse’s stomach, causing digestive problems such as impaction or colic. However, a properly hydrated horse usually produces enough saliva to moisten any feedstuff properly, including beet pulp.

Thus, while research indicates that soaking beet pulp is not necessary to prevent, there are other reasons for soaking beet pulp. It may make the feed easier to chew, particularly for older horses with bad teeth. Soaking may improve the taste, and may be a way to hide supplements or medications. While horses usually drink enough water on their own, feeding soaked beet pulp can increase fluid intake, particularly in the winter when horses may drink less water than they need.

See also

  • Equine nutrition
  • Hay
  • Fodder


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Warren, Lori K. “Horse Feeding Myths and Misconceptions” Horse Industry Section, Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. Web site accessed February 16, 2007
  2. ^ a b c d e f “Should You Feed Beet Pulp?” Equus magazine, accessed via June 28, 2010
  3. ^ Dehydrodiferulic acids from sugar-beet pulp. V. Micard, J.H. Grabber, J. Ralph, C.M.G.C. Renard and J-F. Thibault, Phytochemistry, 1997, volume 44, page 1365-1368, doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(96)00699-1
  4. ^ “Beet Pulp: What Is It and How Can It Benefit My Horse?”. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  5. ^ “Feeding Older Horses With Beat Pulp”.

To help you manage the body weight, then there are few ways to do that. For example, you can do regular exercise and apply the healthy lifestyle. Then, if you want to have a healthy diet, then it is best to choose the fruits and vegetables for the option. In this case, we will talk about one ingredient that is believed to bring the best benefit for diet.

Yes, beets are the ones that play a role to promote the body health. Not only for that, the nutrients contained in it will help to boost the benefits of the healthy diet. This kind of vegetable contains vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, and B6 as well as minerals including iron and potassium. Moreover, it is also rich in fiber. Indeed, you can get the health benefits of fiber by consuming beets. Therefore, to give you more information, we have listed the health benefits of beets for weight loss below.

1. Low in Calories

The first benefit you will get from the consumption of beets for diet is the presence of low calories level in it. By having it, beets can be ideal for your healthy diet.

It will help you to control the body weight for sure. At this point, you can make beets into a juice, stew, pudding, and other great foods as well. Then, with the healthy foods for diet, you will have the ideal and healthy body.

2. Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Beets have the anti-inflammatory properties such as phytonutrients called betalains. As a result, this one plays a role in lowering the body inflammation as well as providing antioxidants. What is even greater from this nutrient, it has detoxification support to help you losing weight. It is linked with its ability to reduce toxin in the body.

Moreover, by having anti-inflammatory properties, beets will help to lower the risk of certain health problems including cancer.

3. Source of Fiber

In fact, beets contain the source of fiber. As a result, it will be beneficial for those who want to have a healthy diet. Then, one of the health benefits of beets for weight loss is to make you feel full longer. Indeed, it will help you to control the appetite. By having beets for your food options, then you will add the best health benefits of beets you may have never expected before.

4. Source of Carbohydrates

It is such a good idea to add beets to your diet foods including the yogurt, salad, and soup as well. By having beets for the food option, then you will have more energy while dieting. It is due to the presence of carbohydrates source in beets.

In fact, you can get 8.5 grams of carbohydrates per one serving of 100g beets. Indeed, carbohydrates will convert the glucose into body energy. Therefore, what are you waiting for? Add beets to your healthiest diet for sure!

5. Source of Protein

Not only for providing the source of carbohydrates, but beets are also great in giving you the protein source. As protein is the important nutrient for the body, then it is a must to consume it regularly. Your diet will be completed as well as adding the good amount of beets.

Also, you will also achieve the benefits of protein such as giving you more energy and regenerate the broken cells with the new ones.

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6. Source of Iron

Next, it is known that beets contain the rich source of iron. At this point, one of the health benefits of iron is to regulate the blood flow and prevent anemia as well. What is even greater from iron in beets is the way it protects pregnant women from miscarriages.

Thus, if you want to fulfill the iron needs as well as having the healthy diet, then it is a great way to add beets to your consumption for sure.

7. Source of Potassium

One of health benefits of beets for weight loss is by containing the source of potassium. With one serving of 100g beets, you will get 259g potassium nutrients. As a result, it turns out that one of the benefits of potassium is to take part in maintaining the healthy digestion system.

It helps to promote the healthy guts and prevent constipation. Not only for that, potassium is the one that boosts the strong muscles as well. The stronger muscle you have, then the more calories your body burns. Then, by adding beets for weight loss, you have succeeded to have the healthy digestion and muscle.

8. Boosts Energy

As beets have the source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, then it is helpful to boost your energy while dieting. At this point, you need foods to give you more energy and giving its best benefits for your body.

Indeed, the answer goes to beets as the superfood. It has everything you need for the nutrients contained such as carbohydrates and proteins. It also contains leucine which helps you to do more exercise and burn calories. Therefore, if you are looking for the ones that will be good for the routine diet, then it is time to give beets a chance to prove.

After knowing the health benefits of beets for weight loss, let’s check the tips for consuming beets for weight loss below.

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Tips for Consuming Beets for Weight Loss

  1. You can find beets in supermarkets. You should pick the ones that are round, spotless, and has the intensely red color. Also, it is important to know that beets have green leaves which indicated the fresh condition of them.
  2. Next, you can keep beets in the refrigerator for a few days.
  3. For cooking tips, you can eat beets in raw or boil it as well. To have healthy diet food, you can simply make it into salads and mix it with onions, vinegar, salt, and oil.
  4. For more delicious recipes, you can make beets into a juice by combining it with lemon and carrots. As a result, you will get the benefits of lemon and carrots as well.

As the summarizing, beets can be healthy diet food. It contains the essential nutrients to promote the body healthy and give you more energy. Moreover, it helps you to burn more calories for weight loss. Then, you can also have the delicious beet recipes for your daily meal. Thus, keep your body healthy by consuming great foods such as beets for sure.

Pressed sugar beet pulp has a very good feeding value in ruminants. It is a bulky material that is highly digestible. Pressed beet pulp has a high energy value, higher than that of maize silage because of its highly digestible carbohydrates. Its mix of energy sources (pectin, cellulose and hemicellulose) provides a long-lasting energy release that is beneficial to ruminants’ digestive system. Though the protein content is low in pressed sugar beet pulp, most of this protein is not degraded in the rumen and can be profitably supplemented with N soluble sources like urea or lush grass. Moreover, pressed beet pulp has a galactogogue effect in dairy cows that is valued by farmers (Nordic Sugar, 2017; Legrand, 2015; CNC, 2012; Leterme et al., 1992). 

In France, inclusion levels for pressed beet pulp have been recommended as follows:

Animal Inclusion level/day
(in kg, as fed)
Inclusion level/day
(in kg, DM basis)
Dairy cows 25-40 5.5-8.8
Suckling cows 14-23 3.1-5.1
Steers ad libitum
(15-35, depending on LW)
Ewes 4.5-9 1-2
Lambs and calves
(< 2 months)
0 0
Lactating goats 3.5 max. 0.8

Pressed sugar beet pulp has some deficiencies that should be taken into account:

  • Its poor protein content (< 10%) requires to supplement ruminants with a protein rich source or with non protein N sources such as urea when it is used to replace dietary roughage (Leterme et al., 1992).
  • Its low fat content should be balanced if pressed sugar beet pulp is fed in large amounts (> 8 kg DM in the ration) (CNC, 2012).
  • Its low lignin fibre (1.5-2.5%) may delay rumination and cause metabolic issues. It should be supplemented with fresh straw or hay that provide necessary long fibre (CNC, 2012).
  • Though it has a high Ca content, pressed beet pulp is poor in P, Cu, Mn, Zn, in carotene and vitamin A. Mineral supplementation is thus necessary (CNC, 2012).

Pressed sugar beet pulp should be progressively included in ruminant ration so that animals get used to it. Similarly, although it is considered to be at low risk of acidosis thanks to its high amount of pectins, pressed sugar beet pulp distribution should be fractionated if pulp makes a large percentage of the ration (CNC, 2012).

Beef cattle

Pressed beet pulp is highly palatable to steers. As high amounts of pressed sugar beet pulp could result in acidosis it is recommended to fractionate its distribution along the day. From a nutritional standpoint, there is no restriction to feed pressed sugar beet pulp at a high level. However, there is generally no more than 50% pressed sugar beet pulp in practical rations (DM basis) because it reduces DM intake and increases moisture content and bulkiness of the diet (Lardy, 2016). It was possible to feed fattening steers on pressed sugar beet pulp enriched with urea-molasses and to obtain a high average daily gain of 1.51 kg. This ADG could be increased to 1.74 kg when animals were also offered rolled barley of bran as supplementary energy (Istasse et al., 1990).

It is generally considered that pressed sugar beet pulp can be fed up to 40% of the diet in growing cattle. However, it has been shown that over 20% inclusion, intakes of growing and fattening animals were reduced. It has thus been recommended that pressed sugar beet pulp be included at 5 to 15% of the diet when intended as a roughage replacer (Lardy, 2016). In a recent study, the addition of pressed beet pulp (from 8% to 25% of the diet, as a replacement of maize) to the diet linearly decreased (P=0.001) DM intake and ADG of growing steers (282 kg BW) (Bauer et al., 2007). Similar results for ADG were reported when pressed sugar beet pulp (up to 20% of the diet, DM basis) was offered to fattening steers (456 kg BW) in order to replace high-moisture maize. Overall DM intake tended to be reduced when pressed sugar beet pulp was used (Bauer et al., 2007). 

In finishing cattle it has been reported that the energy value of pressed sugar beet pulp was greater than that of maize silage. In fattening bulls fed ad libitum on pressed sugar beet pulp silage, an ADG of 1.15 kg was obtained, being 12.5% higher than bulls feed on maize silage. Bulls fed on pressed sugar beet pulp silage had higher abdominal fat content, and dressing percentage was slightly improved. Meat characteristics were also slightly modified with higher DM, crude protein and fat content. The use of pressed beet pulp silage reduced concentrates by 40%, and resulted in lower feed cost (Bendikas et al., 2003).

Dairy cows

In high-yielding dairy cows (43 kg milk/day), pressed beet pulp could be included during 118 days, in a total mix ration at 20% (DM basis) of the diet in order to replace maize silage. It significantly reduced DM intake but had no effect on milk yield, milk fat or milk protein content, which suggested that pressed sugar beet pulp improved diet digestibility (Boguhn et al., 2010). These results were in accordance with earlier observations on early lactation dairy cows receiving either dehydrated beet pulp, either pressed beet pulp or maize silage at low or high level. Pressed beet pulp also resulted in higher peak production but did not change long-term milk production (Visser et al., 1990). Similar observations were made on mid-late lactation dairy cows: mean daily DM intake was significantly lower for the animals receiving the wet beet pulp ration (20.79 vs. 24.11 kg) and milk yield and composition were not significantly different (Argyle et al., 1992).

In France and Belgium, several trials showed that pressed sugar beet pulp increased milk yield by 1-3 kg/day/cow. When included at high level (6 kg DM/day/cow), sugar beet pulp decreased milk fat content and increased milk protein content (Legrand, 2015; CNC, 2012; Morel d’Arleux et al., 1995). When pressed sugar beet pulp silage (at 33% of the diet) was compared to wheat grain as a supplement to maize silage, it was reported to result in slightly higher milk yield but lower milk protein content. The milk fat remained unchanged in both diets and cows gained 250 g daily (Hoden et al., 1990). Regarding milk quality and particularly CLA content, it was shown that sugar beet pulp yielded significantly higher levels of the desirable isomers t11c13, t9t11 and t7t9 in comparison to a cereal mix (Renna et al., 2010) .

In late gestation cows (3-4 weeks before calving), it was recommended to limit pressed beet pulp as the Ca content in sugar beet pulp may result in milk fever.


Pressed sugar beet pulp is not recommended in calves as important amounts would expand in the rumen and hamper normal digestion (CNC, 2012).

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