Enhancing Ruminant Health
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The function of molasses and sugars in the ruminant diet has been studied for many years. Molasses was first extracted from the sugar refining process in the mid-19th century. Since then, refiners have been looking for markets for molasses, and animal feed has been an important component of that.

Like research in many areas, even after a couple of generations, while there are aspects that have become well known, there are others less well known. We still do not understand what form of “sugar” is most beneficial and in what nutritional circumstances.

Included below are a selection of articles and research studies relating to sugar and molasses, from basic considerations to an atomic level view.

Why Sheep and Goats May Need Sugar the Most

The benefits of supplementing Liquid Molasses to small ruminants

Feeding a liquid molasses throughout gestation will encourage DMI, reduce feeding losses, encourage healthy feeding behaviours (i.e., limit feed sorting) and provide ewes and does with enough energy to successfully transition them into lactation, reducing the risk of pregnancy toxemia and ketosis. 

Specific Sugar Types and Sources for Dairy Cows

Published on March 31 2021 Progressive Dairy, contributed by Mary Beth de Ondarza

Supplemental sugars can improve rumen pH. When more sugars are incorporated into the rumen bacteria, less organic matter is converted into fermentation acids.

Improving The Transition Period

Adding Molasses-based liquid feed supplement to a short chopped high-straw dry cow diet

The transition period is a difficult time for many dairy cows. They are uncomfortably pregnant, have to go through the stress of calving, and then need to gear up their entire system for lactation. throw in some diet and pen changes and it's no wonder that cows struggle through this time. Many of the metabolic problems associated with this time have their roots in the dry cow period, and their effects can reach far into lactation.

Could dietary sugar be your next ration adjustment?

Author: Mary Beth de Ondarza. As seen in the Hoards Dairyman, December 2020

TYPICAL U.S. lactating dairy rations containing no added sugars run at sugar levels between 1.5% to 3%. However, we are learning that 6% to 8% dietary sugar may actually be optimal. As we feed more silages and processed feeds, many sugars that would otherwise naturally be in the dairy cow diet have been removed by the shift in ration ingredients.