Molasses has steadily declined from view in human foods for the most part. Once the most popular sweetener used, it was replaced by the less expensive granular sugar we think of today around the time of World War I, as the refinery process had progressed and improved.
You may notice however that molasses is still ever-present in our animals' feed. Although this does utilize a largely shifted market to reduce waste, there are practical and nutritional reasons why molasses is the chosen ingredient for animal feeds still to this day.
How is molasses made?
Molasses is considered a byproduct of the sugar refining process much like beet pulp (although before the refining process was improved molasses was the main product of the refining process). When sugar cane or sugar beets are harvested, they squeeze the juice out of them. This juice is then boiled to remove the moisture from the “dry matter”. This then allows crystalized sugar granules to be harvested from the top. Beneath the sugar crystals is a thick, sticky dark product which we know to be molasses. In modern refineries, if you were to process 100 tons of sugarcane you could expect to harvest 10 tons of refined sugar crystals and about 3 tons of molasses. Now while molasses isn’t as common now, it is still a widely used product for many cultures and recipes enjoyed by humans and animals alike. This leads us to the first trait which makes molasses a great option for your animals.
No one wants to give their animals something they hate eating. We like to have our animals enjoy their life and this helps create that bond between owners and animals. Molasses is one of the best ways to improve the flavor of our animals' food. This is helpful because it will increase the amount they eat and the frequency. Sometimes we have to feed them vitamins/minerals or medicines that they just don’t like. Disguising these in the molasses is a great option that works well!
Most of the feeds we give these days are pelletized. This is done for a reason and that reason is waste reduction. Molasses is a binder due to its thick sticky nature and when mixed into the feed properly it allows those other nutrients to stick together as pellets. For example, most people have seen how much saw dust can be made from a single piece of wood, now imagine trying to carry all that sawdust around. This would be way more difficult than carrying that piece of wood around and much less efficient. When compacted and bound together the pellet acts like a log and there is reduced waste with more efficiency for shipping reasons all making it better for your budget as well as reducing the amount that will be wasted in the bottom of the bag or by the animal.
Now other than the reasons we previously discussed, there are actual health reasons that go into the feed companies choosing this ingredient as well. Unlike its refined sugar counterpart, molasses is left packed full of minerals that are passed to the consumer. The massive cache of minerals the molasses provides include Iron, Selenium, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Vitamin B-6 and Copper which are all essential nutrients needed in their diet. The other great benefit that the molasses provides is the increased amount of good bacteria it brings to the gut which not only improves the digestion rate through stimulation but actually increases the guts ability to digest by sometimes even doubling the bacteria count found in the gut and improving pH levels. Molasses also contains a notable amount of antioxidants.
So if you see molasses on your feed labels don’t be concerned. We have many feeds for most species of livestock and stable animals which contain this wonderful ingredient. Often in the feed world, if the feed is labeled “wet” this term means there is molasses in it. If the feed has either a reduced amount of molasses or none at all it is referred to as “dry”.
Supplement your animals molasses through products like “wet” COB (corn, oats, barley) which any animal would enjoy.
One of the most popular ways to provide molasses is in tubs. These tubs are made to be placed in the pasture or pen and be consumed by licking. The thickness and hardness of molasses slows the feeding rate down making them work at it, avoiding too much molasses consumption which can result in being toxic just like most things in excess. These tubs are fortified with many other essential and beneficial nutrients including minerals, electrolytes, and even protein supplements depending on the goal of the supplement and the needs of that type of animal.
We offer many sizes and even more options as well!
Stop into either of our Snohomish or Monroe stores, check out these options, and chat with our staff!
We’ll see you at the Co-Op!