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A True Super Fibre

29/06/2017 by Tania Cubitt, PhD, HyGain Feeds, www.hygain.com.au

What is beet pulp?

Beet pulp is a by-product of the sugar industry. Sugar is extracted from the beet leaving the pulp. Beet pulp is rich in fibre, and is unique in its form as it is soluble fibre and highly digestible.  

Beet pulp is fermented in the large intestine of the horse similar to hay, pasture and chaff. However, since the fibre in beet pulp is soluble, it is more readily digestible than pasture, hay or chaff. In fact, beet pulp provides digestible energy ranging between that of good quality hay and grains sourcing energy from soluble fibre, as opposed to energy from starches and sugars.  

Consequently, it is ideal for all equines, especially for horses where weight gain is desired as it increases the caloric content and energy density in the diet.

The safe option

When horses need additional calories in the diet, horse owners often feed grains.  Grains, such as oats, maize and barley, are digested in the small intestine of the horse. If too much grain is fed in a single meal, it can result in undigested grain passing into the large intestine. Once in the large intestine, bacteria ferment the undigested grain, potentially resulting in digestive and metabolic disorders, such as colic and laminitis.  

In contrast, beet pulp avoids these potential digestive and metabolic issues as beet pulp is considered a super fibre - containing high calorie content, while being safe to feed. In addition, beet pulp is ideal for horses that suffer from poor dentition, due to its soft consistency once soaked. Beet pulp provides horses that can’t chew hay or chaff with an adequate fibre source, whilst maintaining body condition.

Provides energy but low in GI

Beet pulp is widely used in the feeding of horses around the world. It has been recommended as a replacement for chaff in performance horse diets to improve the quality of fibre, while increasing the energy density of the diet. It is also used as a method to assist underweight or thin horses gain additional condition without the use of grains, while lowering starch intake and retaining the digestible energy level of the diet.  

Accordingly, it is also ideal for endurance and excitable horses, where calm conditioning is required as it provides slow release energy, and helps to restore and maintain fluid balance in the body when previously soaked. 

A study showed horses had higher muscle glycogen content, and lower blood and muscle lactate content after exercise when fed beet pulp in their diets, compared to oats. Muscle glycogen content is the main source of stored energy used for exercise in horses. Lactate - or lactic acid - accumulation can cause muscle fatigue, which results in a decline in performance. 

Beet pulp has a lower glycaemic index compared to any type of grain, meaning it has a small effect on blood glucose levels.  A low glycaemic index feed may have a positive influence on behaviour (i.e. less fizz), along with helping to control nutrition levels in horses susceptible to metabolic related disorders, such as laminitis, insulin resistance, cushings, grain intolerance, Equine Metabolic Syndrome, PSSM and tying-up. 

Enhanced through micronisation 

HYGAIN® MICRBEET® utilises the revolutionary cooking process of micronisation. By micronising and rolling the beet pulp, the raw material is converted into a flake, resulting in a larger surface area, which decreases the amount of time necessary to soak the product prior to feeding. 

However, if beet pulp is not micronised and fed as an individual ingredient, rather than mixed into a commercial feed, it is necessary to soak in water for at least 24 hours prior to feeding. 

HYGAIN® MICRBEET® improves feed efficiency, and is more convenient at feed time with the soaking time reduced to five minutes in hot water or 10 minutes in cold water.