Beet Pulp: It's Not Just For Winter

Our Love Affair- With Beet Pulp!

Purebred Arabian Gelding Hero BF photo by New York Colorado Photographer Mike Troxler
Purebred Arabian Gelding Hero BF

I’m not writing blog post to convince anyone to feed beet pulp mash. I’m simply sharing what we learned when we fed beet pulp mash-and a lot of it, for over 15 years! I love beet pulp MASH. We never fed the beet pulp pellets in their dry form!!!

Our experience with beet pulp mash started out as a way to help our horses stay hydrated through bitter cold winter nights in Colorado, and led to discovering a valuable feed resource... a resource that became especially helpful during the years when drought made hay very hard to buy in Colorado. By “hard to buy”, I mean that local hay dealers were rationing hay-only a certain number of bales per customer. Scary times.

By the time the hay shortage hit, we already had a very successfi; track record feeding beet pulp mash. Which brings me back to the bitter cold that I mentioned. When we first moved to New York, my new friends all assumed that because we lived in the West, we were strangers to cold winter weather. Little did they know that while we had more sunny days and didn’t see the snow accumulation that’s common in a New England winter, the snow that we did see looked like the star field from a Sci Fi movie as it hurtled by on it’s way to New Mexico from it’s home in Wyoming. Our barn was a functional yet humble metal pole barn. No insulation. No heated water buckets or insulated bucket holders. When an arctic cold front would blast through, water buckets froze solid.

Usually, this nonsense wouldn’t last much longer than a week. We had 24 horses and 50 water buckets so that we could take the frozen buckets down and then hang empty ones to refill. At night, having busted the ice out of the morning buckets, we would repeat the process filling their buckets half full with cold water. Then, in effort to keep the water from freezing before they had a chance to drink it, we would then bring boiling water out from the house to bring the temperature up. It’s common knowledge that lots of hay is what keeps horses fueled up and warm inside, but without water to add to that mix you could have trouble. Fun times.

However, it really is true that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Or in this case, you can go to all that effort to present them with lovely tepid water on a -10 degree night and watch them be pretty not interested. Frustrating times.

And that’s a very long introduction to why we started feeding beet pulp mash in the first place. When you add water to beet pulp pellets, it expands to about 3 to 4 times its original volume. That’s how we mixed it - 1 part beet pulp to about 4 parts very hot water. (We learned that beet pulp hydrates much faster with hot water versus cold-almost twice as fast). I liked to make it really wet-not quite soupy. The whole point was to make sure they were getting some water. Usually we added a little salt to make it extra special. We must have made it right, because we never had a horse refuse it. In fact, they loved it!

When spring finally came around the horses looked fantastic! So, we kept beet pulp as a part of their normal rations all year round.

Equine photography by Mike Troxler New York & Colorado
Equine photography by equine photographer Mike Troxler

That first year we were feeding it I didn’t realized that we had hit upon much more than an H20 de