Sugar beet has been fed to horses for over 50 years and with winter on the horizon, will soon become a regular addition to many feed bowls. Despite its popularity, sugar beet is often the subject of confusion. Here we provide the facts to help you decide if and how much sugar beet you should really be feeding…
- Sugar beet is a root vegetable. The sugar beet pulp fed to horses is a by-product of sugar beet processing which produces the sugar we put in our tea!
- Sugar beet is an excellent source of highly digestible fibre and a valuable source of energy (calories). In fact, sugar beet is significantly more digestible than hay and contains a similar level of energy (calories) to cereal grains and conditioning feeds which is why it is often referred to as a ‘super fibre’.
- Sugar beet processing removes most of the sugar and therefore if unmolassed, the sugar beet pulp fed to horses is relatively low in sugar (around 5%). It is also very low in starch (approximately 1%) making it a sympathetic alternative to cereal grains, particularly for horses and ponies prone to excitability or conditions such as laminitis.
- Soaking times vary significantly between manufacturers and can range from as little as 10 minutes to 24 hours for ‘pure’ sugar beet products. However low levels of sugar beet can be incorporated into compound feeds without the need for soaking – always check the feeding instructions on the bag.
- Soaked feeds can start to ferment quite quickly, particularly in hot weather. Consider quick soaking varieties and feed immediately after soaking.
- Whilst it’s true sugar beet is high in calories, it’s often not fed in large enough quantities to be ‘conditioning’! Soaked sugar beet contains approximately 85% water but the increase in volume makes it easy to over-estimate how much you are actually feeding. In fact, 1 Stubbs scoop of ‘Horse and Pony Cubes’ could be 4-5 times higher in calories than a Stubbs scoop of soaked sugar beet!
- Although traditionally considered a conditioning feed, unmolassed sugar beet can be a useful feed for good doers. A token ration e.g. a 250g mug (dry weight) for a 500kg horse, will help to bulk out the bucket whilst adding a negligible level of calories to the total diet.
- Unmolassed sugar beet can also be fed as a partial hay replacer and can be a good choice for poor doers who can no longer chew short chop fibre. Speak to a nutritionist for advice on how much sugar beet can safely be incorporated into your horse’s diet.
- Sugar beet is low in minerals and does not contain any vitamins. For this reason it should always be fed alongside an appropriate ration of compound feed, balancer or broad spectrum supplement.
SPILLERS produce two sugar beet blends, SPEEDY-MASH Fibre (Super-fast soaking sugar beet blend for all horses and ponies) and Senior Super-Mash (The ultimate senior mash for condition & gut health). Both feeds benefit from a full complement of vitamins and minerals, added fibres and pre and probiotics for digestive health.
For more advice on feeding sugar beet contact the SPILLERS Care-Line on 01908 226626 or email@example.com
We would advise for a 450kg with Cushings:
HAPPY HOOF - handful in each meal
Lite + Lean Balancer - 450g per day
That will provide minimal calories with everything he needs :)
In Tracy's situation, neither would be the best choice since neither product provide vitamins and minerals. As a good doer, the pony simply needs a handful of fibre and a balancer to provide maximum nutrition, with minimum calories.
Fibre beet is a combination of sugar beet and alfalfa pellets.
Speedibeet is just sugar beet.
Neither is 'better' than the other, it's very much about horse/owner preference as to the inclusion of alfalfa or not.
I hope this helps.
My mare list condition over summer following a bout of colic. She was measured and give a. Body score of 4.5
She’s currently on conditioning fibre with digest plus nuts (recommended allowance from the weigh in)
In addition she is given senior mash over night with her haylage (ad-lib)
I’m still looking for ways of adding additional calories without necessarily a large increase in food. I’m putting oil and a daily allowance of salt into her feeds.
Is it worth now adding Speedi beet into her digest plus and fibre feed in exchange for just the water? Just for a few more calories heading into winter months?
If you are feeding the Conditioning Fibre and Digest + Conditioning Cubes at the full recommended ration (total of 800g per 100kg of bodyweight per day) and still feel she needs more condition I would swap the Conditioning Fibre onto Ulca Fibre.
This is a more energy-dense alternative that will put more calories into the bucket without massively increasing the volume.
How much oil are you adding? To make a very significant calorie contribution you'd need to add 100ml per 100kg of bodyweight per day. However, this amount can become unpalatable so it's best to build up very gradually.
Senior Super-Mash will be a better option than a pure sugar beet as it benefits from the added vitamins and minerals and added pre and pro bitoics to further support digestive health.
Without knowing how big your mare is it's hard to make specific quantity recommendations. If you'd like to have a chat with a nutritionists just drop us a line on 01908 226626, FB message, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How much sugar beet do you recommend for her
She competes in heavy ridden have you any samples to try xx
We'll need to know more about her body condition and current calorie intake before making a recommendation.
We don't sell a pure sugar beet, but two sugar beet blends - Senior Super-Mash and SPEEDY-Mash Fibre. Both of ours benefit from added vitamins and minerals and when fed at the full recommended ration will provide a balanced diet. The recommended feeding rate is between 600-800g per 100kg of bodyweight per day (depending on body condition).
SPEEDY-Mash Fibre is our lower calorie option with the Senior Super-Mash being more conditoining.
If you decide to feed a pure sugar beet, you will need to add vitamins and minerals on top.
We can send you a sample of either of our mashes so just let us know which you'd like to try.
If you would like to speak to a nutritionist about the specific quantities and best recommendations for your horse please call us on 01908 226626 or email@example.com.
I have a 391kg Welsh Cob on box rest due to mechanical laminitis and he is currently only walking in hand twice a week and fed TopSpec Balancer and TopChop Lite. I’ve looked into putting him on sugar beet before to give him a variety of fibre each day.
Which one would you recommend for him to just balance his diet a little bit?
As you are already feeding a balanced you don't really need to add anything else from a vitamin and mineral perspective. If you are looking to add something additional for interest, then I'd suggest SPEEDY-Mash Fibre as it's low calorie.
Check out our Lite + Lean Balancer too !https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=spillers%20why%20feed%20a%20lite%20balancer