United Molasses Products – The Perfect Complementary Ingredients

My team have recently been working in the South West, looking at rations on many dairy farms and one thing has been very noticeable– the absence of molasses tanks on farm! Molasses is a product which is used to minimise the dust in blends in the South West – which of course is true, but it has so much more to offer!

Molasses is an excellent source of readily fermentable sugars, and contributes to rations nutritionally as well as physically. Molasses is known to promote feed intakes by improving palatability and reduce 'sorting' ; in addition to this, as its sugars are utilised by the rumen micro-organisms to digest fibre, it also increases feed intakes by maximising rumen fermentation. Take a typical diet of silage and blends, formulated using actual analyses of silage from the South West this Autumn:

Ingredients (kg)Silage and high-protein blendSilage, high protein blend and molasses
Grass Silage (2016 analysis)46.146.3
Maize Silage (2016 analysis)18.417.7
Distillers grains (wheat)1.51.5
Sunflower pellets1.01.0
Milk Yield31.9 litres34.5 litres
Adding molasses to a simple, high-protein blend increases feed intake, due to its palatability, and also balances the excess of quickly available nitrogen from the grass silage and urea, allowing more efficient fibre digestion, and higher dry matter intakes.

Silage and high-protein blendSilage, high protein blend and molassesChange
Total Fresh Matter Intake67.4kg68.3kg+1.3%
Total Dry Matter Intake21.7kg22.8kg+5%
Milk Yield (litres)31.9 L34.5 L+8%
Margin over feed /cow/day£5.07£5.45+7.5%
Total Protein in ration17.1%16.4%-4.0%
Losses as methane and Urinary NitrogenMethane 15g/lUrinary N 129g/dayMethane 14g/lUrinary N 120g/day-6.5%
Adding 1.8kg/head/day of molasses to a high-yielding ration increases feed intake by 5%, and the resulting milk yield increases by 8.0%, making a substantial improvement in profits of £0.38 per day, an increase of 7.5%. In a 250 cow herd, this equates to £2850 per month increase in profits.

Using molasses can also help to achieve maximum fertility in a high yielding herd. The rations above show that using molasses allows a lower overall protein content of a TMR, as the protein present in other raw materials, particularly silage, can be better utilised by the rumen micro-organisms. This results in a diet with lower protein levels, and lower losses of energy and protein as methane and urinary nitrogen. Altogether this helps to balance blood urea; as high blood urea (BUN) is known to adversely affect fertility, managing blood urea can help to maintain fertility in your herd.

I would recommend that farmers consider using molasses as an ingredient in their TMR mixes, and look at the cost benefits of installing a molasses tank. Molasses as an ingredient in blends is a useful dust suppressant, but its use is limited due to the practical difficulties of mixing, transporting and storing blends with high levels of molasses. By installing your own tank, you are able to feed more molasses, and more importantly, the correct amount of molasses, to balance your ration.


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