Molasses is used in diets for ruminants and less so for pigs, but when quantities and price are favorable it is often considered as an ingredient for poultry diets.


Molasses is a well-known by-product of the table sugar industry, and it can originate from sugar beets or cane. It is a viscous, semi-liquid ingredient that requires heating during cold times or its high viscosity will not allow it to circulate easily from storage tanks to the feed mixer.


Some nutritionists consider molasses an appetizer (it contains about 50 percent sucrose) but this is probably not the case with poultry, where taste perception is influenced more by texture. Nevertheless, adding 2 percent molasses in any poultry feed can enhance pelleting quality, reduce feed intake and perhaps reduce feed cost, albeit only slightly. If feed intake is indeed enhanced, this is considered a beneficial but not required effect in order to consider molasses in poultry feed formulation.


Adding more than 2 percent molasses can be achieved and most typical feed formulas can “absorb” up to 6 percent molasses without problems. But, as molasses is quite rich in potassium, this may increase water intake (it depends on overall formula electrolyte balance) and lead to wet-litter associated problems.


It should be kept in mind that the protein quality in molasses is rather low as not all nitrogen present (used to determine crude protein) is actually bound into proteins. Usually, a moderate level of 4 percent is preferred for the above reasons, assuming overall molasses quality is acceptable.