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Sugar is a carbohydrate, like beet fibre. Unlike structural carbohydrates, which consist of long polysaccharide chains, sugars consist of short-chain monosaccharides, disaccharides or in some cases slightly longer oligosaccharides. These are so-called storage carbohydrates, are present inside the cells.

After the plant cell bursts, these carbohydrates become highly soluble and are quickly accessible for digestion in the animal’s stomach. The most common type of sugar in sugar beet products is sucrose, a disaccharide. It consists of a glucose molecule and a fructose molecule, and is mainly grown for production of ordinary granulated sugar.

The sugar content of animal feed is primarily determined by molasses and bi-products from food manufacture. Other sources of sugar are grass and hay, which may contain more than 10% sugar. Fodder beets are also grown to some extent, as well as sugar beets for feeding to animals in their natural form. Carrots are another root crop with a high sugar content.