Q. While looking through the ingredients of my mare’s mix, I spotted the addition of sugar beet shreds. Can you tell me whether it is safe to feed unsoaked shreds to horses, as I have always soaked them before?
Christine Smy, equine nutritionist, answers: Sugar beet shreds are an excellent way of adding digestible fibre to your horse’s diet. In this country, it is common to soak shreds for 12 hours and pellets for 24 hours to prevent them swelling in the horse’s gut.
It is interesting to note, though, that in parts of America, shreds are often fed unsoaked with no detrimental effects. However, I would be cautious about adopting this practice, just in case.
The addition of water to beet pulp is a good way of rehydrating working horses, as well as dampening the feed. Extruded sugar beet is becoming popular in the UK, as it is only soaked for a few minutes, which cuts down on valuable labour time.
The addition of unsoaked sugar beet shreds in concentrates is perfectly fine. Not only is it a good source of digestible fibre, it also provides slow-release energy – ideal for horses in hard work.
Shreds can be added to a mix at a level of up to 10% quite safely, and horses enjoy the taste and texture.
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