Soybean hulls can be a good fiber alternative in horse diets. This is concluded from a new study, published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.
“The domestic horses diet often contains a mixture of forages and grains in addition to or in place of hays. Using starch-rich foods (concentrates) in equine diets can result in large changes in the intestinal microbiota of the animals and subsequently in the digestibility of the nutrients. The excessive starch in equine diets can lead to fermentation of the feed by amylolytic bacteria in the large intestine resulting in an increase in lactic acid production, decreased pH, and increased production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which can increase intestinal disorders such as colic or laminitis. “
The gastrointestinal tract of the horse is designed to handle a near continual supply of forage. “The hindgut, grinds away slowly, turning fiber into usable energy. Some fiber contains more energy than others. Rapidly fermentable fiber sources, sometimes called super fibers such as beet pulp and soy hulls, offer many benefits to horses, including an upsurge in energy from normal pasture grasses and hay.” (Kentucky Equine Research)
Today’s horse diets are recommended to have lower grain proportions. Therefore, alternative energy sources became necessary. Soybean hulls can be a good alternative fiber source, as it promotes a decrease in starch levels without compromising the caloric density of the feed.
The nutritional value of the hulls is quite good. The nutrients in soy
hulls are highly digestible and are considered an energy feed as opposed to a roughage feed. In some studies, the fiber has been shown to be 85 percent digestible, which illustrates a product high in fiber can also be high in energy. (https://articles.extension.org:443/pages/39695/what-are-soybean-hulls)
Many studies on the inclusion of soybean hulls in equine diets have shown promising results. The Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 2004, determined that soy hulls appear to be an acceptable replacement for up to 70% of the total forage in diets for horses. “This feedstuff is economically feasible, readily available, palatable, and digestible. Horses in our study readily consumed all experimental diets with no adverse reactions. “
When compared to beet pulp, soy hull pellets are much easier to feed. While Beep pulp should be rinsed, soaked and rinsed again, hull pellets only need water. And a lot of it. Hull pellets will absorb and swell similar to beet pulp, but becomes more of a mash texture, sticker and similar to cooked oatmeal. This form of mash like product provides a great carrier for supplements, salt and other diet additives.
Hull pellets are 30% higher in protein, has 25% less iron, twice the Zinc and only 1/3 of the ESC (simple sugar) than Beet Pulp. Hulls have minimal fat and no phytoestrogens found in the bean. The cost of hull pellets is the same when purchased at our local feed stores. Beet pulp comes in a 40# bag and soy hull pellets as distributed by LayzD Equine Services LLC comes in a 50# bag. Both are priced at 35 cents per pound.
After much research and consultation with Professional Equine Nutritionist from all over the world in addition to the United States, I am of the opinion that Soy Hull Pellets are a superior feed product as both a carrier for supplements and as a fiber source for senior and other horses with compromised dentation. Those horses with bad or no teeth who cannot chew hay and need a wet diet.
Since the hull pellets are not available locally, LayzD Equine has them shipped in and available for sale at our Corvallis facility.
The amount of soy hull pellets should be determined by a qualified nutritionist as other feed products in the diet should be considered and the nutritional values balanced. However, both hull pellets and beet pulp can safely be fed in amounts up to 30% of the total daily consumption safely.