By Dr Rolf Spörndly

Dried sugar beet pulp is a commodity on the world market. It is a common ingredient in concentrates of cows. The fiber in sugar beet pulp is highly digestible and has an energy content close to that of starch. But it is a structural carbohydrate without the negative effect on rumen fermentation that is typical for non-structural carbohydrates like starch and sugars. When dried sugar beet pulp replaces cereals to some extent in a concentrate blend for high yielding cows you could feed concentrate at up to 18 kg per day per cow without problems.
Dried sugar beet pulp has however, as the name indicates, to be dried. And drying means most often usage of fossil fuels like oil and is consequently something we do not want to take place more than necessary.
However, sugar beet pulp can easily be ensiled. After the sugar extracting factory process the pulp is quite wet with a dry matter (DM) content lower than 20%. By pressing the pulp and adding about 4% molasses to facilitate lactobacillus growth, the so called "high pressure beet pulp" of about 27% DM becomes very suitable for ensiling. For delivery to dairy farms in the neighbourhood of the sugar factory it can be transported by lorry and ensiled in bunker silos or in tube silos. But in order to make it available to more distant farmers, the beet pulp silage can also be wrapped in round bales.

 Bales are first wound with a special thicker stretch film on the lateral surface area   When completed each bale is placed on a pallet to facilitate transportation 
Picture 1 - Bales are first wound with a special thicker stretch film on the lateral surface area
(Picture by Danisco Sugar, Sweden)
  Picture 2 - When completed each bale is placed on a pallet to facilitate transportation
(Picture by Danisco Sugar, Sweden)

The bales are produced in transportable baling machines (Flexus, 2008) that produce bales of 1200 x 1200 mm containing 1,300 kg silage (345 kg DM). Bales are first wrapped around the lateral surface area with 6 layers of 50 µm stretch film and thereafter with 6 layers 25 µm 750 mm stretch film with 50 % overlap. No silage additive is used, other than the molasses.

The bales have good storage stability and can be stored for a period of 2 years when intact. Once opened, it is recommended to use the feed within 3-4 days in wintertime and 2 days during the summertime.

Bales are stored at storage area for delivery on demand.
Picture 3 - Bales are stored at storage area for delivery on demand. Between 25 000 and 40 000 bales are produced in Sweden per year
(Picture by Danisco Sugar, Sweden)

The pressed beet pulp, in bunker silos, tubes, or bales is a popular dairy fodder in Sweden. It has gained popularity largely due to its good nutrition qualities and reasonable price. It is particularly popular on growing dairy farms where the farmer wants to expand the number of cows, but is short on land acreage for roughages. As a result of the increasing interest in milk production in 2008 due to higher milk prices, the total quantity of pressed beet pulp for this winter is already booked and sold - long before the sugar beet seeds were sown.
Sweden has produced pressed beet pulp silage in wrapped round bales for many years. The Swedish sugar factory (Danisco Sugar) produces up to 40 000 bales (53 000 ton) of pressed beet pulp per year. Austria, Germany, Holland, and Denmark also produce ensiled sugar beet pulp in bales. In Switzerland, 22% of the beet pulp production, totalling 54 000 tons, was produced in round bales in 2004.
The analysis of ensiled pressed beet pulp in Sweden:

Table 1 - Effects of film wrap layers on silage DM losses, quality and nutritive value

Dry Matter 270 g per kg 
  Per kg dry matter
NDF, g 445
Crude protein, g 108
Ether extract, g 8
Crude fiber, g 176
Ash, g 73
ME, MJ 12,8
DE, MJ 15,3


A typical ration for high producing dairy cows (including pressed beet pulp):

  Kg Dry Matter per cow per day
Pressed Beet Pulp   5 kg DM
Clover/grass silage 6 kg DM
Rolled cereals 7 kg DM
Protein concentrates 6 kg DM
Mineral/vitamin mix 150 g.


Sources for data used in this article:
Lexus, 2008.
Spörndly, 2003. Feed tables for ruminants (in Swedish). Report 257. Dept. of animal feeding and management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Wyss, U. 2005 Quality of pressed pulp silage in big bales. Federal research station for animal production and dairy products. Agroscope Liebefeld-Posieux, Switzerland. Meeting of the IIRB Study group. 5 September 2005

Dr. Rolf Spörndly is research leader at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala and Chief advisor at Svenska Husdjur, a farmer's cooperative company for advisory services to dairy farmers.

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