. ., 2 Everglades Station Mimeo EES65-19 March 5, 1965
SUGARCAIE AND ITS'. BY-PRODUCTS FOR CATTLE FEEDINGl/
H. L. Chapman, Jr., R. W. Kidder, W. G. Kirk, C. E, *Haines
T. W. Casselman and-F. le Grand 2/
Quite often, materials produced within Florida will serve as excellent
supplemental feeds for cattle.' Outstanding examples of this are a number of
potential cattle feeds derived from sugarcane. These include sugarcane tops,
the entire sugarcane stalk, and milling by-products such as filter-mud, ba-
gasse and molasses. Some of these potential feeds are used in certain sugar-
producing areas of the world and not in others.. Factors controlling the in-
cidence of their use will include harvesting and milling procedures. Economics
is also a major factor controlling the extent to which the various products will
be used for cattle feeds. For example, bagasse is often used for mill fuel and
bagasse screenings are used as a filtering aid in the clarification of sirup.
If bagasse is to be used for cattle feed, there must be more monetary return
to sugar-producers than from fuel or 6ther -industrial uses. Sugarcane tops
are.not. of economical importance in Florida but in some areas of the world they
are used for feed. Blackstrap molasses can be used in making ethyl alcohol
thus providing competition for the ise of this product` for cattle feeds. These
examples emphasize the role that economic factors play in dictating the extent
that sugarcane or its' by-products may be fed to cattle.. The purpose of this
paper is to present a current summary of information regarding the nutritional
value of feeds from sugarcane and their Utilization in cattle-production programs.
Sugarcane and Sugarcane Tops
Sugarcane and sugarcane tops can be used for cattle feed being fed either
on pasture or in drylot. They can be fed fresh or ensiled. Sugarcane also can
be grazed. .Factors that affect the extent to which sugarcane will be used for
cattle feeding include availability, cost of equipment and/or labor for harvest-
ing and feeding the materials and purpose for feeding cattle.
Sugarcane tops.- Sugarcane tops are not of potential feed importance in
Florida due to methods of sugarcane harvesting. In some tropical countries,
however, the tops are fed to workstock that are used in harvesting cane.
Whole sugarcane.- Sugarcane may be grazed or it may be cut and fed, chopped
or whole. It is high in sugar content and will yield a large amount of total
digestible nutrients (TDN) per acre. .Chopped sugarcane was first used as a pas-
ture supplement at the Everglades Station in 1932 (2). A later study demonstrated
that the performance of beef cattle was improved when cottonseed meal was included
with the chopped sugarcane (7). In a 3-year wintering trial (10) at the Main
SReproduced from Proceedings of the 1964 Meeting of the Florida Soil and
Crop Science Society.,
2/ Animal Nutritionist, Everglades Experiment Station; Animal Husbandman,
Everglades Experiment Station; Vice-Director, Range Cattle Experiment
Station; Assistant Animal Husbandman, Assistant Agricultural Engineer
and Assistant Sugarcane Agronomist, Everglades Experiment Station.
Station, Gainesville, mature grade cows fed shocked sugarcane remained in a
thriftier condition than did those fed either sugarcane silage or grazing
carpetgrass. More recent studies have demonstrated that the value of sugar-
cane as a supplemental feed will vary annually and also with the kind of
pasture grass (6, 11). During other recent experiments yearling cattle were
grazed on Roselawn St. Augustinegrass, paragrass or bahiagrass pastures, with
and without chopped sugarcane during the winter. No protein supplement was
included. The sugarcane was very palatable to the cattle but as previously
mentioned the rate of consumption and changes in body weights of the steers
were affected by the type of pasture and amount of available forage (6). The
average weight changes attributed to chopped sugarcane are summarized for three
different winters in Table 1. Benefits from sugarcane was greatest during the
severest winter and for cattle grazing paragrass.
Table 1. Average weight increase from sugarcane during 3 different winters
Experiment Days on Kind of grass
number feed Para St. Augustine Bahia
1 70 45.6** 34.4* 27.5
2 84 39.4* 7.5 1.2
3 84 70.0** 1.2 1.9
Average 51.7** 8.5 15.3
SSugar Journal 26: 47(6)
SSignificant at 0.05 level of probability.
** Significant at 0.01 level of probability.
Commercial varieties of sugarcane do not have to be chopped when fed to
mature cattle. If fed whole, however, the degree of utilization as compared
to chopped cane may depend upon the size of cattle and variety of cane. Also,
if sugarcane is to be used as a pasture supplement it may be more economical
to mechanically harvest, c\op and deliver the cut feed material to the cattle.
Sugarcane on the Everglades Experiment Station has been handled this way using
a Lundell 606 forage harvester with a row crop head. The feed roll and spring
loaded shields normally used for corn were removed in order to furnish an un-
obstructed pathway for the cane to enter the throat of the harvester. All
knives except one were removed from the cutting cylinder and a counterweight
added for balance. A cylinder speed of 1170 to 1200 rpm worked best. Lower
speeds allowed the chopper spout to plug and higher speeds chopped the cane
finer than necessary and required more power. A tractor rated at 50 to 60
PTO horsepower was required to properly operate the chopper.
Three varieties, C.P. 48-126, C.P. 57-475 and US 54-24-5 were used in
mechanical harvesting tests. Variety C.P. 48-126 was difficult to harvest
mechanically due to its larger barrel, greater height and high yield. The
greatest problem was plugging of the gathering snouts by dried leaves forming
a layer of material on the ground that the snouts could not penetrate. This
problem can be minimized by making two passes over a row at two cutting heights
or by burning. However burning may cause more lodging, if rodent damage is
high, and more of the lodged cane will be missed by the snout.. Also
burnt cane should be fed as-soon as possible after burning as burnt cane
will spoil within several days. The palatability of sugarcane was not re-
duced by burning. Plant crops were easier to harvest than ratoon crops.
Cattle readily graze standing sugarcane. The main problem is correct
management procedures during the grazing period as it is very easy to over-
graze sugarcane. Overgrazing is probably more detrimental to the sugarcane
than to most other forages and must be avoided by controlled grazing. The
sugarcane should be grazed only once, for a short period, each year. Several
blocks of sugarcane can be used in succession to secure longer periods of
grazing. It is also important that sugarcane fields be located a close dis-
tance from the cattle that are to graze it.
Sugarcane has been successfully grazed by cattle on frozen pasture with
molasses (1). However, sugarcane varieties vary widely in their barrel size,
sugar, fiber and protein content and other factors that might affect animal
acceptance. During a recent study at the Everglades Station seven selected
varieties were tested for acceptability by cattle. Cattle showed a distinct
preference for the C.P. 57-475 variety during one grazing season, when the
sugarcane plants were immature. However, during two other grazing seasons
no variety preference was noted for mature ratoon crops. If raised for forage
the sugarcane variety that gives the greatest yield of forage and carbohydrates
and that is best adapted to the local growing conditions should be used. Com-
mercial varieties that grow well may be used for this purpose.
Sugarcane silage.- Cane can be fed to cattle for 30-60 days after being
frozen, but then will become sour and unpalatable to cattle (2). The chemical
composition of fresh sugarcane is not appreciably altered by freezing (Table 2).
Table 2. Chemical composition of mature cane (%) 1/2/.
Dry matter 28.69 29.47
Crude protein 3.68 3.06
Ether extract 1.02 1.38
Crude fiber 27.77 30.75
Ash 5.17 4.89
Nitrogen free-extract 62.37 59.22
1/ Oven-dried basis.
SFlorida Agr. Exp. Sta. Circ. S-117(2).
Frozen cane can be preserved by ensiling if desired (8, 10). Much of the sugar
is lost if cane is ensiled and experiments have demonstrated that less weight
gain is obtained from sugarcane ensilage than from fresh sugarcane (9, 10).
Sugarcane silage has been estimated to be approximately 70 percent the feeding
value of Texas Seeded Ribbon cane sorghum silage in steer fattening programs
(18). However, the digestibility of cane silage has been shown to be fairly
good except for protein and to contain 43.5 to 46.0 percent T.D.N. (15) and
ensiled sugarcane could provide emergency supplies of feed. It should be re-
membered that sugarcane should be supplemented with a source of protein when
used as cattle feed in order to assure optimum performance of cattle.
The three major by-products of the mill that have a potential use in cat-
tle feeding are filter-mud, bagasse and molasses. These will be discussed in
that order of presentation.
Filter-mud.- Also referred to as filter cake or cachaza, this material
is a residue collected during the filtration of cane juice during clarifica-
tion. It consists mainly of a mixture of sugarcane fibers, sucrose, coagulated
colloids, albuminoids and other insoluble solids. Its chemical composition will
vary with sugarcane variety, climate and type of-soil upon which the cane is
grown. It is a soft, spongy, lightweight, dark-brown to black colored material,
usually containing 55 to 70 percent moisture when coming from the mill. Usually
it is discarded as waste material or sometimes used for fertilizer. This mater-
ial has also been processed for cattle feed by fermenting it in ammoniacal gases,
drying and.adding back molasses 3/. Results of a recent study to evaluate this
material, mixed with-two different levels of blackstrap molasses are summarized
in Table 3. The basal ration contained 34.5 percent ground mapped corn, 15.0
Table 3. Summary of average gains, feed efficiency and carcass data for steers
on Molakane feed (112 days on test)l/.
Experimental Pasture Citrus 30% molasses- 50% molasses-
treatments only pulp Molakane Feed Molakane Feed
No. of steers 7 8 8 8
Initial weight (Ib.) 598.6 605.0 596.9 604.4
Final weight (lb.) 723.6 860.0 778.1 789.4
Total gain (lb.) 125.0 255.0 181.2 185.0
Daily gain 1.12 2.28 1.62 1.65
Daily concentrate/steer (Ib.) --- 18.4 16.3 16.0
Concentrate/lb. of gain (b.) --- 8.1 10.1 9.7
Packing house weight 2/ (lb.) 661.4 816.9 731.3 742.5
Warm carcass weight (lb.) 384.7 521.0 454.3 467.9
Dressing percent 3/ (%) 58.2 63.8 62.1 63.0
Carcass grade 5/ 5.4 8.-0 6.6 6.6
j Everglades Mimeo Report 62-16.
SSlaughtered in Miami, intransit distance 80 miles.
Calculations based on packing house weight and warm carcass weight.
Grade of 5 = high utility; grade of 6, 7 and 8 = low, medium and high
percent .41% cottonseed meal, 50.0 percent citrus pulp and 0.5 percent salt-min-
eral mixture. The citrus pulp was replaced with Molakane Feed mixtures contain-
ing 30 percent blackstrap molasses and 50 percent blackstrap for two other groups
SCommercially referred to as Molakane Feed.
of steers. A fourth group carried on pasture, with no supplemental feed. The
chemical analysis of the two molakane-molasses mixtures is presented in Table 4.
Table 4. Chemical analysis of Molakane- molasses mixtures (%). 1/ 2/
--- 30% 500 %
Dry matter 88.2 86.7.
Crude protein- r -9.5 -... 9.7
Crude fiber 13.1 12.9
Ether extract 6.9 5.'9
Ash: 11.2 13.2
N.F.E. 59.3 58.3
1/ Oven-dried basis
SEES Mimeo Report 62-15
The steers fed the citrus pulp ration had an average daily gain of,2.28
pounds as compared to 1.62 and 1.65 pounds, respectively for the groups re-
ceiving the 30 and 50 percent molasses-Molakane Feed mixtures. Steers receiving
the citrus pulp ration ate the most feed and were the most ,efficient converters
of feed to weight gains. Consumption rates, and feed efficiency were similar
for both groups eating the molasses-Molakane feed mixtures. .Differences in
concentrate consumption between the control group and the two groups 'supplied
the mixtures suggests that Molakane Feed may have decreased the palatability
of the concentrate mixtures.
While results of this initial test indicated the molasses-Molakane Feed
mixtures to be less effective than dried citrus pulp in steer fattening.rations
it is possible that further study may more clearly demonstrate how this material
might be profitably utilized in cattle feeds.
.Bagasse.- This is the fibrous residue remaining after the.stalk has been
crushed and the juice pressed.out (19). Sugarcane yields approximately 20.to
24 percent bagasse per ton of fresh weight. The bagasse is approximately 50
percent.moisture. Variations in the amount of bagasse produced per ton of
fresh cane are related to environment and variety of cane.,.
BagaSse is widely used as fuel for factory"boilers. It also has been
used for the production of low-grade paper, insulation board, plastics, alpha-
cellulose, chicken litter and cattle feeds. When used for the latter purposes
the bagasses is often screened into two or three'fractions according to parti-
cle size. Sometimes the bagasse pith is separated for use in explosives, pro-
duction of bone black and cattle feeds. In order for bagasse to be utilized
for other purposes however, it must exceed its value as fuel or must be available
in greater quantities than needed for fuel.
A series of experiments were initiated in 1952 at the Range Cattle Station
to evaluate bagasse for use in cattle feeds (13). Products studied included
whole bagasse, chicken litter, bagasse pith, camola (4 parts pith and 10 parts
cane molasses) ammoniated bagasse and a mixture of 25% pith and 75% molasses.
The chemical composition of these materials are presented in Table 5. It was
concluded from these earlier studies that bagasse could be used for 70 days at
20 to 30 percent of the ration after which time it should be partly replaced
with ingredients containing more energy.
Table 5. Chemical composition of bagasse products (%) I/.
iWhole Chicken Bagasse Ammoniated 25% mo-
bagasse litter pith Camola bagasse lasses
Dry matter 89.75 92.30 90.00 78.91 91.89 90.04
Crude protein 1.75 2.63 1.69 1.73 11.66 4.31
Crude fiber 35.88 41.35 28.82 8.69 39.31 24.23
Ether extract 0.85 0.65 1.23 0.41 1.01 0.35
Ash 2.73 2.00 14.31 11.03 3.12 5.01
N.F.E. 48.45 45.67 43.95 57.05 36.79 56.14
1 Florida Agr. Expt. Sta. Bull. 641(13).
Two fractions of bagasse, dehydrated chicken litter and bagasse pith have
been compared to ground corn cobs as a roughage source for steers being fattened
in drylot at the Everglades Experiment Station. Results are presented in Table 6.
The bagasse had no detrimental effect on carcass measurements or upon the gastro-
intestinal tracts of the cattle.
Dehydrated chicken litter and bagasse pith serve as excellent carriers
for molasses and it is conceivable that this combination can be supplemented
with other nutrients to provide excellent cattle feeds. This may become a
factor in determining the economics of utilizing more bagasse in cattle feeds
as roughage feeding materials become more scarce.
Blackstrap molasses.- This is a by-product of either raw sugar manufac-
turing or refining. It is the heavy viscous liquid separated from the final
low-grade massecuite from which no further sugar can be crystallized by usual
methods (19). For the purpose of this paper refiners sirup is included in
molasses and may be high or normal in nitrogen content. Average chemical
analysis for blackstrap molasses will vary with cane variety, climatic and
soil conditions and milling and clarification procedures but a partial
approximate analysis is presented in Table 7. Molasses has been used for the
production of beverage or industrial alcohol, certain organic chemicals, low-
grade yeasts and in livestock feeds.
Table 6. Average weight, carcass, feed and cost data .(156 days on test.).
.corn cob Dehydrated sugarcane
-. and sugarcane bagasse
Roughage Source shuck bagasse fines
Number of steers 8 8 8
Final wt. (lb.) 953 960 921
Initial wt. (Ib.) 622 618 619
Total gain (lb.) 331 342 302
Daily gain (lb.) 2.12 2.19 1.94
Warm carcass wt. (Ib.) 550 60 532
Net Dressing % a 58.0 58.6 58.1
Choice 3 3 3
S Good .... ... ... .. ... .. .. .. ....... 5 .. 4.
Standard 1 0 1
Feed intake (ib/day) 20.55 22.45 21.44
Final carcass value ($) b201.80 208.88 194.76
Feed cost ($) c/ 89.12 97.36 92.98
Return above feed cost ($) 112.68 111.52 101.78
Warm careass -weight 2- percent*
a/ Net dressing percent = Wrm arcaswegt percent
Net dressing percent Final weight 3 percent
b/ Cattle sold on a carcass grade and weight basis. The carcass sales
weight was.the warm carcass weight minus 2 percent. Prices re-
S. ceived were Choice, $39.50; Good $37.50; and Standard, $31.Q0 per cwt.
S--c/ .Feed ingredient costs per ton were corn cob and shuck, dehydrated
S sugarcane bagasse and bagasse fines, $25.00; corn, $60.00; dried
citrus pulp, $37.50; cottonseed meal, $78.00; urea, $100.00; mineral,
$105.00; cane molasses, $20.00; and milling cost, $8.00.
Table 7. Average chemical analyses for blackstrap molasses coming from
centrifuge. / '
Sucrose (%) 25-92
Reducing sugars (%) 12-35
Crude protein (%) '. 2.5 9.0
Ash"(%) 7 -15
1/ Spencer Meade (19)
When used as cattle feed it is an excellent source of energy. A litera-
ture review is available discussing the value of molasses for various kinds
of livestock (17). It has been demonstrated to improve ration palatability,
have a beneficial effect upon rumen microorganisms, to contain essential trace
elements, to serve as a "binding"agent in feeds and to be useful as a carrier
of other nutrients or chemicals. Molasses produced on organic soils or coming
from the .Capi Sugar refining method (16) will be relatively high in crude pro-
tein. Other blackstrap molasses is low in crude protein and rations including
molasses should be properly balanced with additional protein feedstuffs. A
chemical analyses of molasses produced by the Capi process is presented in
Table 8. Chemical composition and digestibility coefficients for high-nitrogin
molasses (%) 1/.
Crude protein 12.66 55.8
Ether extract 1.33 30.8
Crude fiber 23.19 39.5
Ash 8.80 --
N.F.E. 54.73 67.3
Dry matter ----- 58.3
SJ. An. Sci. 23: 339(16)
A number of studies.have been conducted in Florida concerning the value
of blackstrap molasses produced on organic soils for beef cattle. In an early
study at the Everglades Station (4) cane molasses compared favorably with ground
snapped corn and citrus pulp when used as a supplement for steers fattened on
pasture. In a later study gains were slightly less than from ground snapped
corn and citrus pulp when fed to steers on pasture at the rate of 6 pounds a
day per head, (Table 9) but economic comparisons were favorable due to relative
feed costs. The relative value of molasses in steer fattening programs on pas-
ture will be affected by the quality of available forage and also the relative
cost of other feedstuffs.
Drylot feeding studies at the Range Cattle Station (12) have demonstrated
blackstrap to be comparable to citrus molasses when citrus pulp and either of
the molasses were fed at the same rate to fattening steers. A review of feed-
ing studies conducted in other states is available (17) and a recent review is
available regarding research concerning urea in molasses (20).
Relatively little work has been done in this country to evaluate black-
strap molasses as a pasture supplement for beef cows. It has been shown to
be a good source of energy for dairy cows (14) with indications that maximum
efficiency is maintained at approximately 10 percent of the dairy ration but
similar information is not available for beef cows.
A recent study was conducted at the Everglades Station to evaluate black-
strap molasses (86-880 Brix) as a.pasture supplement-for beef cows (3). Three
groups of beef.cows were fed no molasses, 5:pounds of molasses daily per cow
during the winter months, and 5 pounds of molasses daily per cow throughout
the year. The cows receiving the blackstrap molasses had a higher rate of con-
ception and produced calves having higher weaning weights and grades than cows
not receiving supplemental molasses. Also, death losses of calves between
birth and weaning were reduced. '.Results indicate that the seasonal-fed molasses
program was the most economical.
Table 9. Average weight change and carcass data for animals
ration versus single ingredients oh pasture. "1
receiving a mixed
.. Pastur Citrus Cane Ground Mixed
only pulp Molasses snapped feed
Final weight (Ibs.) 839 931 875 914 923
Initial.weight (Ibs.) 692 692 675. 691 692
Total gain (Ibs.) 147 : 239 200., 223 231
Daily gain (Ibs.) 2 1.05 1.71 1.3 159 1.65
Intransit shrink (% 3.52 4.83 5.31 .90 4.54
Dressing percent () 2/ 54.94 57.82. 56.45 56.25 55.84
cooler shrink (%) / 1.20 0.76 71 0.79 0.58
Change in grade (1/3) 1 2 2 1 1
J Fla. Agr. Expt. Sta. Bull. 665 (5).
SSignificant:at 0.01 level of probability.
It is important to properly evaluate available pasture forage when feeding
blackstrap molasses. If the crude protein level of the forage is below 10 per-
cent, a supplemental source of protein should also be provided. It is also
important that an ample source of roughage be available to the cattle. If ample
forage is available mill-run blackstrap molasses is an excellent pasture supple-
ment for beef cattle.
1. Bourne, B. A., B. W. Rundertmark and H. J. Andreis. A supplemental grazing
crop for beef cattle in Florida Everglades. Sugar Journal 23: 6. 1960.
2. Bregger, T. and R. W. Kidder. Growing sugarcane for forage. Florida Agr.
Expt. Sta. Circ. S-117. 1959.
3. Chapman, H. L., Jr., R. W. Kidder, M. Koger, W. K. McPherson and J. R. Crocketi
Blackstrap molasses for beef cows. Florida Agr. Expt. Sta. Bull. IN PROCESS
4. Chapman, H. L., Jr., R. W. Kidder and S. W. Plank. Comparative feeding
value of citrus molasses, cane molasses, ground snapped corn and dried
citrus pulp for fattening steers on pasture. Florida Expt. Sta. Bull.
5. Chapman, H. L., Jr., F. M. Peacock, W. G. Kirk, R. C. Shirley and T. J. Cunha.
Supplemental feeding of beef cattle on pasture in south Florida. Florida
Agr. Expt. Sta. Bull. 665. 1964.
6. -Haines, C. E. and F. le Grand. Supplementing winter grazing with sugarcane.
Sugar Journal, 26: 47. 1963.
7. Kidder, R. W. Beef and dual purpose cattle investigation. Florida Agr.
Expt. Sta. Ann. Report, p. 129, 1935.
8. Kidder, R. W. Beef and dual purpose cattle investigation. Florida Agr.
Expt. Sta. Ann. Report, p. 186. 1940.
9. Kidder, R. W. and W. G. Kirk. Cattle feeding in southern Florida. Florida
Agr. Expt. Sta. Bull. 360. 1941.
10, Kirk, .1. G. and R. M. Crown.- -Sugarcane silage, shocked sugarcane and carpet-
grass as roughages for wintering the beef herd. Florida Agr. Expt. Sta.
Bull. 373. 1942.
11. Kirk, W. G., H. J. Fulford and E. M. Hodges. Wintering beef cattle on the
range. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Ann. Rept. p. 234-235. 1945.
12. Kirk, W. G., E. M. Kelly, H. J. Fulford and H. E. Henderson. Feeding value
of citrus and blackstrap molasses for fattening cattle. Florida Agr. Expt.
Sta. Bull. 575. 1956.
13. Kirk, W. G., F. M. Peacock and G. K. Davis. Utilizing bagasse in cattle
fattening rations. Florida Agr. Expt. Sta. Bull. 641. 1962.
14. Lofgreen, G. P. and K. K. Otagake. The net energy of blackstrap molasses
for lactating dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. XLIII(2): 220-230. 1960.
15. Neal, W. M. Digestibility of sugarcane silage. Florida Agr. Expt. Sta.
Ann. Report p. 79. 1939.
16. Putnam, P. A., M. Cisar and R. E. Davis. Growth and nitrogen balance with
steers fed Hi-N-molasses. J. Animal Sci. 23(2):339. 1964.
17. Scott, M. L. Use of molasses in the feeding of farm animals. Review and
annotated bibliography, Sugar Research Foundation, Inc., N. Y. Technologi-
cal Rpt. Ser. No. 9. 1953.
18. SheAly, A. L., W. G, Kirk and R. M. Crown.
silages made from napier grass, sorghum and
Sta. Tech, Bull. 358. 1941.
N. Y. 1963.
Comparative feeding value of
sugarcane. Florida Agr. Expt.
Cane sugar handbook, 9th edition. John Wiley and Sons, Inc.,
20. Stengel, H. JI, R. R. Johnson and A. Spellman. Urea and non-protein nitro-
gen in ruminant nutrition. Nitrogen Division, Allied Chemical Corporation..