When Beet Pulp Smells ‘Off’ After Soaking

Q. This past winter I started feeding my senior horse soaked beet pulp to supplement his hay, and he’s done well on it. I soak it overnight for the following morning and then through the day for his evening feeding. Now that the weather is warmer, the beet pulp is going off—by evening it smells like vinegar, and I don’t want to risk feeding it. I’m also worried about my horse choking if I feed him dry beet pulp pellets. Do you have any suggestions?

A. Soaked beet pulp can certainly go rancid in hotter weather, and the vinegar or winelike smell is a good sign it isn’t safe to feed. The pellets can take a long time to fully soak and break down, which gives it more time to go bad during warm weather. However, you can speed soaking up by using hot water instead of cold. When I was a working as a groom outside of London, we used to put the kettle on for afternoon tea while we were cleaning tack and used the remaining boiling water to soak that evening’s beet pulp pellets. By the time the pellets had soaked through, they were cool enough to feed. This might still be too much time to take soaking your evening beet pulp, especially if your horse is boarded and you don’t spend a couple of hours at the barn at night.

Another option is to switch to beet pulp shreds, because these tend to soak faster. I have set them to soak before riding and find that they’re soft enough to feed by the time I put my horse away. Rapid-soak is also an option. One brand’s packaging states that the flakes soak in 10 minutes. I have used this version, too, and found their claim accurate.

I’ve also heard of people soaking their beet pulp at home (in air conditioning during hot days!) and securing the beet-pulp-filled bucket in the back of their pickup or car’s foot well on the way to the barn.

Because you’re soaking your morning beet pulp overnight, you could also soak your evening feeding at the same time and then strain it and put it in the fridge either in a container or bag. You might even be able to make a couple of days’ worth this way and keep it refrigerated. The colder your fridge, the longer the beet pulp will likely last. However, I’d be cautious of keeping it for more than 48 hours after soaking, as it may go moldy.

Hopefully one of these suggestions will work for you and allow you to keep feeding soaked beet pulp through the warmer summer months.