Range Cattle Station November, 1965
Mimeo Report RCS66-2
BLACKSTRAP MOLASSES FOR BEEF
H. L. Chapman, Jr.2/
In order for beef cattlemen in Florida to compete favorably
with other states and countries it will be necessary to make optimum
use of locally-produced feeds. One such example is blackstrap
molasses, an excellent source of energy. It has been estimated that
50,000,000 gallons will be produced annually in Florida by 1975.
A gallon of mill-run blackstrap weighs approximately 12 pounds,
so this means there will be approximately 600,000,000 pounds
o aly available carbohydrate-feed produced within the state.
The purpose of this report is to discuss the value of blackstrap
molasses for beef cattle feeding and to consider how it might be used by
the feed industry of Florida.
In order to properly evaluate blackstrap molasses it is necessary
to carefully define the specifications of the material being considered.
Blackstrap is the by-product (or end product)of either raw sugar
manufacture or sugar refining. It is the heavy viscous li quid separated
from the final low-grade massecuite from which no further sugar can
be crystalized by the usual method (7)1 /. The composition of black-
strap will be affected by variety and maturity of canes, climatic and
1/ Presented at Florida Nutrition Conference, Gainesville, Florida,
November 11, 1965.
2/ Animal Nutritionist and Head, Range Cattle Station, Ona.
3/ Numbers in parentheses refer to literature cit ed.
soil conditions and clarification technique. ilol!tsses coming from the
centrifuge varies from 85 T, 9:0 jr V 2S to 40 percent' sucrose,
12 to 35 percent reducing sugars 2.5 to 9.0 percent' crude pro'ein
and 7 to 15 percent ash (7). In addition molasses coming from the
Capi Sugar refining method will be higher in crude protein content
(10). The blackstrap molasses produced in Florida comes primarily
from canes grown on the organic .oil of south Florida. This molasses
will have from 7 to 9 percent of crude protein which is higher than
molasses produced in LouiSiano ol c ot5hoe.
Considerable lack of uniformity exists retjar'din.. grades and
definitions of molasses and care must be taken to define the composition
when defining a molasses or a molasses product. In addition to the
above variations molasses is often diluted with water to facilitate
pumping and this product has been termed "Cane Feeding Molasses"
by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. This is
defined as a "by-product of the manufacture of sugar from cane and
shall contain 48% or more of total sugar, expressed as invert sugar
and shall not contain less than 79.5 Brix". There have been
proposals during recent years to adopt a revised definition terming
this product "cane molasses fbr feeding" (5).
There are a number of available molasses products containing
various additives, such as urea, vitamin A, mineral elements,
phenothiazine, alcohol and fat. The composition of each of these
products should be carefully evaluated before using.
Molasses is a good source of readily available carbohydrates,
trace minerals, B-vitamins and unidentified growth factors. It is
a good vehicle for furnishing other supplemental materials such as
vitamins, minerals, fat, anthelmintics and drugs. Considerable
research has been conducted to determine the nutritive value of
blackstrap produced in other parts of the country and the results of
these have been summarized (9,11). During the past few years
workers at the Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations have
evaluated Florida-produced blackstrap molasses for beef cattle feeding
and a summary of this information is available (2). As previously
mentioned differences exist in the chemical composition of blackstrap
molasses produced from canes grown on organic soils as compared
to that produced on mineral soils (7,9). The source and composition
of molasses should be carefully determined.
Reports (4,9) have indicated that the relative cost should be the
decisive factor in deciding whether to feed blackstrap molasses or some
other energy feed and this is indeed an important factor. However, it
is also necessary to consider the composition of the overall diet in
deciding whether to utilize molasses in a ration. The molasses does
not have the ability to substitute for roughage.
It has been conclusively demonstrated that Florida-produced
blackstrap molasses will increase return above feed costs as compared
to pasture only with both cows and steers (1,2,3,6). Molasses has
been reported to have 75 to 85 percent the feeding value of corn
grain (11). In steer fattening trials on pasture at the Everglades
Station cane molasses produced 83 percent as much gain as dried
citrus pulp and 90 percent as much as ground snapped corn (1),
Cane molasses increased carcass grade, weight gain, dressing
percent and return above feed cost as compared to cattle on pasture
Five pounds of mill-run blackstrap molasses per cow daily
increased conception rate oJ p.u-d0cet? heavier, higher grading
calves as compared to cows on pasture only (3). The same study
revealed that Brahman cattle benefited from the supplemental feed to
a larger degree than English breeds of cattle.
During the past 25 years there have been three times when the
price of blackstrap molasses has been high. These were World War
11, the Korean conflict and the Cuban crisis. In 1963, for example,
mill-run blackstrap molasses reached a peak price of $38.48 a ton
FOB the plant. In June 1964 it was valued at $21.37 a ton and has
remained near or below this figure since that time. The current
price of blackstrap molasses is approximately $16,50, FOB the
plant in tank car lots. (8).
During the research at the Everglades Experiment Stdion (3) it
would have been necessary to receive 28-30 cents per pound for calves
in order to pay for the cost of the molasses fed during the winter
months when blackstrap molasses cost $38.48 per ton. However,
when the molasses sold for $21.37 it would have been necessary to
receive 15 cents per pound t, pay 4f,- the nmolasses cost with the
increased production of calves weaned
The pastures used in the studies at the Everglades Station were
excellent and it is possible tlat greater benefit would have been obtained
had they been less optimum. There are other factors to consider in
determining the economics of molasses feeding. These include increased
carrying capacity of pastures due > providing 15 to 25 percent of
TDN requirements, ease of storage and handling due to being a
liquid, and the relative co the cost of other feed
Equipment Needed for Feeding Cattle
Since molasses is fluid it can be handled by pumping or by
gravity flow. It is adaptable to many types of equipment facilities. The
essential equipment in handling molasses for beef cattle includes storage
facilities, equipment to take molasses to the field and trough space to feed
the molasses in.
Trough soace. Molasses can be fed twice weekly to brood
cows with good results. This means one feeding should contain a
3-day supply of molasses and the other a 4-day supply or each
feeding a 3 1/2-day supply. Good results can be obtained by1
supplying an average intake of 5 pounds per animal per day. There-
fore trough space should be adequate to contain 20 pounds (or
approximately 1.75 gal.) of molasses per cow in the pasture. The
trough can be wood, metal or concrete. Used bathtubs are excellent
and are relatively cheap. If the troughs are light enough to be moved
easily it is more desirable.
One cubic foot at .apaoe wfll hold appiwaftSt ely 5 gallons of
liquid. A gallon of mill-run blacketrap moteaues will weigh approxi-
mately 12.0 pounds of mill-run blaokatrap imeliast Since adequate
volume should be provided to contain about 20 pounds of molasses/cow
a good rule-of-thumb is to provide one cubic foot of volume for every
4 cows in the pasture. This will provide about 12.5 percent more
trough volume than actually needed to feed 5.0 pounds/animal/day but
will allow for more flexibility in balancing trough space and cattle
Equipment for hLalina maaelaaes to the mature. Due to molasses
being liquid a number of types of equipment can be used to haul
molasses to the field. The primary prerequisites for this type of
equipment would be sufficient volume to fill a number of troughs with-
out being too heavy a load to handle easily in the pasture, that it have
approximately a 12" inlet at the top and a 6" outlet at the back to allow
the molasses to flow freely into the trough. The outlet at the back
can be a cut-off valve or a 6" pipe with a 90'elbow that can be
lowered or raised to regulate the flow of molasses.
The vehicle can be a water wagon, a small tank truck, a tank
mounted on a two-wheel or four-wheel wagon or any variation of
this type of arrangement. Some ranchers have used water wagons
and have left them in the pasture so that all they have had to do was
open the outlet valve twice a week. Molasses is adaptable to numerous
Storage facilities. This can also be of various types depending
upon available equipment. However, the average cattleman should
probably have facilities adequate to store a two-week supply of
molasses If 5 pounds are fed daily per cow this means approxi-
mately 6 gallons of storage space should be provided/cow being fed.
The storage tank should have a 12" inlet and 6" outlet and should
be 6 to 7 feet above the ground to allow the portable tanks to be
filled from the storage tank by gravity flow. The tank should be
located close to a good hard road with easy access for large trans-
port trucks that often weigh 35 tons, loaded
Potential Use in Mixed Feeds
In addition to having excellent nutritional value molasses has also
been shown to increase the utilization of low-quality roughage, help
minimize dustiness in mixed feeds, to be a good hinder in pellets,
and to increase palatability of feeds (9,11)
It can generally be used up to 10-15 percent of a mixed ration
without decreasing production in feedlot cattle. However blackstrap
molasses is one of the cheapest sources of available carbohydrates
in Florida and when used in a feed-mixture that is fed in limited
amounts to cattle on pasture a considerably higher percentage of
molasses can be used if compatible with the flow and storage qualities
of the feed mixture. The economics have not been satisfactorily
explored but there appears to be considerable potential in developing
a high-molasses feed mixture that could be used as a range supple-
For example another by-product of the sugar industry is bagasse
(7) Bagasse is a fibrous material that has been successfully used
in steer fattening experiments (3) as a source of roughage. It can
absorb large percentages of molasses and still flow freely. If econom-
ical procedures could be developed to appropriately process bagasse
it is conceivable that this could be used as a roughage base to absorb
relative large amounts of molasses, which in turn could be incorporated
with other feed ingredients for either a range supplement or a
When properly used blackstrap is an excellent supplemental feed
for beef cattle. The economic feasibility of feeding molasses depends
upon the relationship between the cost of molasses to the cost of other
feeds and to the value of the increased production that -ao. ~iu:rL uted
to the supplemental feed Care should be taken to evaluate the
relationship between the cost of a supplemental feeding program and the
extra return rec ived in order to be sure of the economic soundness
of the feeding program. Also the composition of available forage and
the molasses should be evaluated to be sure they are balancing each
The amount of molasses to include in a mixed feed is usually
limited to approximately 15 percent. However, there is considerable
potential for using higher percentages of molasses in pasture supplements
if handling procedures can be devised.
I Chapman, H. L., Jr. Cane molasses with and without fat or
cornmeal in pasture steer fattening program, Everglades Station
Mimeo Rpt. EES 65-16. 1965.
2, Chapman, H. L, Jr., R, W Kidder, W. G, Kirk, C E Haines,
T. W. Casselman and F. le Grand. Sugarcane and its by-products
for cattle feeding. Proc Fla. Soil and Crop Sci 1965, 486-497
3. Chapman, H, L., Jr R. W. Kidder, M Koger, J R. Crockett
and W. K. McPherson. Blackstrap molasses for beef cows Fla.
Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 701 (In progress of publication). 1965.
4. Godbey, E. G. and R. C. Edwards Comparison of blackstmp
molasses and ground snapped corn in wintering rations for beef
cattle. So. Car. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 477. 1960.
5. Crochet, S.L. Personal communication. 1964,
6. Kirk, W. G., E. M. Kelly, H.J. Fulford and H.E.Henderson.
Feeding value of citrus and blackstrap molasses for fattening
cattle. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 575. 1956
7: Meade, George P. Spencer-Meade Cane Sugar Handbook, 9th
editioi.. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, N.Y. 1964.
8. Molasses Market News. Vol. 16, No. 38.
9. Morrison, F.B. Feeds and Feeding, 22nd Edition The Morrison
Publishing Co., Ithaca, N.Y. 1956
10. Putnam, P.A., M. Cisar and R.E.Davis. Growth and nitrogen
balance with steers fed Hi-N-molasses. J. Animal Science 23:
11. Scott, M.L. Use of molasses in feeding farm animals. Review
and Ann. bibliography, Sugar Research Foundation, Inc., N.Y
Tech. Report Series No. 9. 1953
The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
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site maintained by the Florida
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