Download this article as a PDF.
Apart from just adding a scoop of soaked beet pulp to your horse’s mix or cubes, there are certain situations where products, like Speedi-Beet or Fibre-Beet, can represent really useful feeding solutions.
Speedi-Beet and Fibre-Beet Vital Statistics
Laminitis, Cushing’s or Equine Metabolic Syndrome
Horses suffering from any of these require low sugar, low starch diets so both Speedi-Beet and Fibre-Beet are suitable to be fed alongside forage.
A balancer like Baileys Lo-Cal
or Performance Balancer
should be given at recommended levels to provide a fully balanced diet by supplying the vitamins, minerals and quality protein lacking from a forage/fibre only diet.
- Those who also need to lose weight or stay on a calorie controlled diet can be fed a small amount of Speedi-Beet as an alternative to a low calorie chaff ie. 1 Baileys Mug of dry Speedi-Beet weighs 150g and, when soaked, fills roughly a Stubbs scoop and provides just 1.8MJ of Digestible Energy, which is less than a scoop of Light Chaff.
- For laminitics or those really needing to lose weight, Speedi-Beet can be soaked in plenty of water then that water can be discarded, and the beet “squeezed out”. This way, much of the sugar content will be removed and thrown away with the water and the process can be repeated to further reduce any sugar content.
- For those who need additional calories to maintain or gain condition, Fibre-Beet is a useful alternative to Speedi-Beet as its alfalfa content provides quality protein to help build muscle and top line. Research has also shown that when feeding alfalfa and beet pulp together, the fibre digesting bacteria in the hindgut are able to get more out of them than if either are fed on their own.
- There is evidence that a feed of soaked Speedi-Beet, given before a horse or pony is turned out, can reduce grass consumption by “filling the horse or pony up” and therefore making him “less hungry”.
Gastric Ulcers or Tying-Up
The management of these involves reducing starch intake but as prone horses are often in work and need more calories than a forage-only diet can provide, digestible fibre and oil are useful to replace some or all of any cereals or compound feed.
- Baileys All-Round Endurance Mix is a useful high fibre, high oil feed for working horses who need a reduced starch diet but a combination of Performance Balancer, Outshine high oil supplement and Fibre-Beet can be fed to provide a similar energy intake with up to 80% less starch.
- When feeding Fibre-Beet or Speedi-Beet to provide a significant calorie contribution, measure the quantity to be fed by how much it weighs before soaking. Every 1kg of Speedi-Beet should be soaked in 5 litres (5kg), while every 1kg of Fibre-Beet should be soaked in 3 litres (3kg) of water.
- Correctly soaked Speedi-Beet and Fibre-Beet make large volumes of feed so the practicalities of feeding may need considering.
Horses on box rest are at greater risk of impaction colic to their restricted movement and as they may also not drink enough. Soaked Speedi-Beet or Fibre-Beet can be useful to increase both fibre and water intake to help maintain a healthy gut.
Poor Forage Eaters
Working or performance horses can often be poor forage eaters for a variety of reasons, including stress, whilst older horses with poor dentition may simply find hay or haylage difficult to chew.
- Fibre-Beet is a useful forage replacer and can be fed to replace weight for weight up to 40% of the forage ration (dry weight, before soaking). This can be given in a separate bowl from the horse’s hard feed so the horse has a choice and natural foraging behaviour is encouraged.
- Some long fibre is needed for gut function so 25% soaked Speedi-Beet can be combined with 75% chaff or alfalfa as a total forage replacement, if necessary.
Adding Speedi-Beet or Fibre-Beet to Hard Feed
Since the horse’s stomach is of limited capacity and is not particularly stretchy, care should be taken not to feed too much hard feed in one go. As a guide, we recommend feeding no more than 3½ to 4lb/1.6 to 1.8kg per meal to a horse and no more than 3 to 3½ lb/1.4 to 1.6kg per meal to a pony.
- The total daily amount of mix or cube should be divided into as many small meals as possible. If these are nearing the maximum limit suggested above, care should be taken with how much, if any, beet or chaff is added.
- Soaked Speedi-Beet or Fibre-Beet added to mix or cube meals should encourage chewing and palatability, if the aim is to increase fibre intake, feeding more forage is often the most practical and cost effective approach. Alternatively, feeding the beet products in a separate bowl from the hard feed will help keep meal sizes manageable.