Molasses is a by-product of the sugar refining industry, where either sugar beet or sugar cane are used as raw materials. Because of a high water content and concomitantly low energy value, it is only used extensively in poultry diets in areas close to sugar refineries. The molasses usually available for animal feeding is so called final or blackstrap molasses, which is the product remaining after most of the sugar has been extracted for human consumption. Depending upon local conditions, high-test and type A and B molasses are sometimes available. The high-test product is basically unrefined cane or beet juice that has had its sugars inverted to prevent crystallization. Type A and B molasses are intermediate to final molasses. As expected, the energy level of molasses decreases as more and more sugar is extracted. Molasses is usually quantitated with a Brix number, measured in degrees, and these numbers relate very closely to the sucrose concentration in the product. Both cane and beet molasses contain about 46 - 48% sugar.
Although molasses contains relatively little energy and protein, it can be used to advantage to stimulate appetite and to reduce dustiness of feed. For example, feed intake is usually increased in birds such as young Leghorn pullets, if molasses is poured directly onto feed in the feed trough. It is doubtful that molasses improves 'taste' of feed under these conditions, rather it presents a novel feed texture to the bird. A major problem with molasses is a very high potassium content, at 2.5 - 3.5%, which has a laxative effect on birds. While most birds perform well on balanced diets containing up to 2% molasses, inclusion levels much above 4% will likely result in increased water intake and increased manure wetness.
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