Feeding Goats

Nutritional Value of Beet Pulp for Goats: Shredded vs Pellets

The nutritional value of beet pulp for goats is often misunderstood. Beet pulp can be great to feed to your goats. But it’s not an entire diet; just a supplement. For more information about a good overall goat diet, check out our free guide, “What to Feed Goats”.

Also, it’s best for certain purposes, but not others. As an educated goat keeper, you need to know when to use it, and how to use it with your goats.

After you read this guide, you’ll have a good grasp on the details of the nutritional value of beet pulp for goats, why it’s good, when to use it and how to feed it to your goats.

If you’re just getting started with goats, you’ll also want to check out our free guide,  the “9-Step Essential Beginners Guide to Raising Goats.”

Beet pulp has been a mainstay in livestock feed for years. It’s inexpensive, easy to store, and provides an excellent source of easily digestible fiber.

What is Beet Pulp? Where Does Beet Pulp Come From?

A large portion of the sugar produced in the United States comes from the sugar beet. Sugar beet pulp is the byproduct produced when the sugar is extracted. The pulp is then dried and sold as food for horses, pigs, cows, and goats.

Can Goats Eat Beet Pulp?

Yes. Not only is it okay for your goats to eat beet pulp, but it’s a great source of calories, energy and fiber, although the protein content is low. Because of these characteristics, it’s great for weight gain on underweight goats or for goats who need the extra calories like nursing does. More on all of that later.

What is the Nutritional Value of Beet Pulp?

The fact that beet pulp is high in energy/calories and fiber, but low in protein, can be seen in the numbers. Here’s a chart showing the nutritional breakdown of the stuff contained in beet pulp. This illustrates the nutritional value of beet pulp for goats. Notice the “digestible energy”. Also, notice the Crude Fiber level, as well as the Crude Protein level. Check it out…

Nutritional Breakdown of Beet Pulp

Digestible Energy

1,080 kcal/lb

Crude Protein

7.0%

Crude Fat

0.50%

Crude Fiber

18.2%

Calcium

1.09%

Phosphorus

0.07%

Starch + ESC
(Ethanol Soluble Carbohydrates)
(i.e., simple sugars including glucose and fructose)

12.0%

Benefits of Beet Pulp for Goats

When it comes to goats, beet pulp makes an excellent addition to other forage foods. What is the nutritional value of beet pulp for goats? The high levels of easily digestible fiber help to put on weight, making beet pulp useful for underweight goats, does who are lactating or pregnant and growing kids.

This type of forage is also fairly high in calcium, which is very important for lactating does. Care should be taken with wethers however, as the excess calcium can cause problems. (More on that below.)

Pros and Cons of Feeding Beet Pulp to Goats

There are pros and cons to every food, so let’s explore the pros and cons of beet pulp.

The “Pros” of Beet Pulp

You may be wondering about the health benefits and nutritional value of beet pulp for goats. Because of the high levels of easily digestible fiber, beet pulp helps put weight on otherwise hard to keep animals.

Does Beet Pulp Put Weight on Goats?

Yes. A lot of beet pulp information you find online seems to be about horses. But, beet pulp is good for goats as well. Sometimes you’ll have a goat that seems to be underweight. Of course, you’ll want to rule out problems that could be causing that, like illness, parasites or other issues. For more information about that, take a look at our guide, “Goat Health Care.”

When you want to get more calories into your goat, beet pulp is a good solution as a supplement to your goat’s regular diet.

Beet Pulp Sugar Content

Despite the origin of beet pulp (it comes from sugar beets), beet pulp itself is very low in sugar, providing energy from complex carbohydrates instead. Beet pulp is what is left after most of the sugar has been removed from it.

Beet pulp is also extremely cheap, because it’s a byproduct from the sugar industry that they have no use for.

The “Cons” of Beet Pulp

Beet pulp shreds can be dusty, and the pellets are extremely hard, sometimes requiring soaking before they can be fed, especially for horses. With goats, soaking is optional, based on whether your particular goats seem to prefer their beet pulp wet or dry.

Beet Pulp for Wethers

The calcium-to-phosphorus ratio in beet pulp is very high. This can cause urinary calculi in wethers, a painful condition where excess calcium causes solid particles to form in the urinary tract. For this reason, beet pulp may not be the best choice when feeding your wethers.

Beet Pulp Myths

Beet pulp has been the subject of many myths over the years, but most of those myths have been debunked.

One of the most common myths is that beet pulp has to be soaked before feeding. Stories of animals’ stomachs exploding have been shared, but there’s no evidence of it ever happening. Yes, dry beet pulp may expand slightly when it’s in the stomach, but the only effect that results is that the goat may feel somewhat “full” temporarily.

Various species have been fed both dry and soaked beet pulp for years with no adverse effects. When you hear about beet pulp needing to be soaked before it’s fed to an animal, that mostly applies when feeding beet pulp to horses, not goats.

If a horse is fed too much dry food all at once, the horse can often try to swallow too much, too quickly and it can get impacted in the horses throat, causing the horse to choke. With goats, they tend to carefully chew the beet pulp more, so it’s not so much of a problem.

Another debunked myth is that beet pulp is just a filler feed with no actual nutritional value and adds “fake weight”. Beet pulp is classified as a forage and isn’t intended to be a complete diet.

There’s a kernel of truth to that myth, but only because of a misunderstanding of the purpose that beet pulp serves. The weight that comes from beet pulp isn’t “fake”, and can really help animals that need to put on weight quickly and easily. It serves a purpose and isn’t simply a “filler feed”.

Comparison of Beet Pulp to Other Foods for Goats

Now that we’ve considered the pros and cons of beet pulp and debunked some of the myths, you’re probably wondering how it compares to other feed options for your goats. Three of the most common are alfalfa, oats, and barley.

Beet Pulp vs Alfalfa Pellets

Alfalfa is higher in protein and can provide high levels of vitamins that beet pulp does not.

Beet Pulp vs Oats

Oats are also higher in protein, while offering less fiber and calcium.

Beet Pulp vs Barley

Barley provides higher levels of both fat and fiber.

Remember that beet pulp is not a complete diet on its own, and various foods can be mixed with beet pulp to create a feed that caters to your specific animals’ needs.

Beet Pulp Pellets or Shreds – What’s the Difference?

There are two types of beet pulp available commercially, shreds and pellets.

Beet Pulp Shreds for Goats

Shreds are the dried bet pulp shredded into very small pieces as the name suggests.

Is Shredded Beet Pulp Good for Goats?

Shredded beet pulp for goats is preferred by some people because they feel it may be easier for goats to swallow than pellets in which the beet pulp is pressed tightly together. One downside of shredded beet pulp, compared to pellets, is that it takes a lot more space to store it. This is because the pellets are pressed and compacted so they don’t take up as much space as the looser shredded beet pulp.

Beet Pulp Shreds with Molasses

You will find that many brands of beet pulp shreds, and beet pulp pellets, have molasses added to them. The main reason is to add some sweet flavor so the goats will eat them more. In fact, some goats will turn their noses up at beet pulp without molasses, but will gobble up the beet pulp once some molasses is added.

The downside of molasses is that if you over-do it and give too much to your goats over long periods of time, it’s been known to throw off the pH level in a goat’s rumen (stomach). This can sometimes lead to illness like rumen acidosis and depletion of B vitamins.

Also, molasses is essentially sugar, and giving too much to your goats is similar to giving too much sugar to your child. It’s not an ideal source of energy because it can result in sugar highs and sugar lows.

Also, molasses contains iron, and giving too much iron to your goat can impair your goat’s copper level. That’s something that could be harmful to a goat that may already be experiencing copper deficiency.

Because of the different concerns with too much molasses, you’ll want to use molasses sparingly with your goats. And for these reasons, many goat keepers look for brands of beet pulp shreds and beet pulp pellets that don’t have molasses added.

Beet Pulp Pellets for Goats

Pellets are the shreds compressed into larger pellets. As mentioned earlier, molasses is often used to make the shreds more palatable and to hold the pellets together. The amount used normally doesn’t affect caloric content much and won’t be a problem for a healthy animal.

Beet Pulp Shreds vs Pellets

In the final analysis, beet pulp shreds and beet pulp pellets can both be good feed supplements for your goats. The best choice depends on your particular situation.

Your best bet is to try out both forms of beet pulp. See which your goats prefer, and which is easier and more affordable for you to feed and store.

Where to Find Beet Pulp – How Much Does Beet Pulp Cost?

Beet pulp can be found at most farm/feed stores or ordered online. It’s commonly sold in 40 lb bags, and normally costs less than $20 per bag. Once you’ve purchased your beet pulp, you’re ready to start feeding and reaping the benefits.

Feeding Goats Beet Pulp

Feeding beet pulp to your goats is easy, but as with any food, there are things to consider before you start feeding. Beet pulp is a supplementary food, and should only make up between 5 – 15% of your goats’ ration.

Feed it sparingly. You can provide it to your goats by itself, or mix it with other foods.

As mentioned earlier, soaking beet pulp isn’t required with goats. In fact, some goats will refuse to eat wet food if they’re not accustomed to it. On the other hand, some goats seem to love wet food. The main thing is for you to test your own goats to see what works best. Try it wet. Try it dry. They will show you what they like.

Beet Pulp for Dairy Goats

Many goat keepers will throw a cup of beet pulp on top of the food given while milking a lactating doe. The shredded pulp can be fed dry or soaked. Beet pulp will provide your doe the extra calories, fiber and calcium she will need while producing all of that milk.

Be sure to consider the beet pulp in the context of the overall diet you’re feeding your doe from all sources to make sure she’s getting a proper nutritional balance.

For more detailed information about raising dairy goats, check out our guide, “How to Raise Dairy Goats.”

Wet Beet Pulp

As mentioned earlier, soaking beet pulp is not required, but some goats prefer beet pulp when it’s wet (some don’t). Soaking beet pulp can help to provide extra water to your goats, which is never a bad thing. Pellets can be soaked to make them easier to chew, although it’s not required.

To soak beet pulp, mix one part pulp with two parts water in a bucket.

Beet Pulp Soaking Time

Let the beet pulp soak for at least 30 minutes, if using warm water, or one hour if using cold.

If feeding dry, always provide water for your goat to drink. Be careful not to feed too much of the beet pulp, or the high calorie content can make your goats overweight.

How Much Beet Pulp to Feed for Weight Gain

One common guideline used for feeding beet pulp is to give your goat about a cup of it each day, in addition to one cup of alfalfa and a half-cup of other supplements. This is just one suggestion. The ideal feeding quantities for your goats will depend on the nutrition the goat is getting from their overall diet combined, including the beet pulp.

Goat Feed Video

Video Credit: Camelot Hills

 

Beet pulp can be an excellent addition to your herd’s diet when used correctly. Now that you’ve learned about the pros and cons, myths, and proper feeding practices, you’re ready to start seeing the benefits your animals will receive when you include beet pulp in your daily rations.

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