Last Updated on March 11, 2022 by Allison Price
Molasses is not very nutritious and does not add much nutritional value to horse feed formulating. Concentrates with molasses added to sweet feeds may contain up to 12%, while most horse feeds are lower than 10%. Mixing forages with molasses, such as A&M (alfalfa and molasses), or O&M(oat hay and molasses), can result in as much as 20% of molasses.
There are two benefits to adding molasses in feed management:
- Molasses can bind small particles (fines), in a feed, which can reduce the aerosols that are produced when horses exhale.
- Molasses adds sweetness, too. Molasses is a sweetener for horses, just like other mammals. Horses are more likely to eat bland feeds if they are able to taste the sweetness.
Over the years, concerns about molasses and sugar content in balanced formulas has increased. Many of these concerns stem from a misinterpretation of sugars, starches, and non-structural carbohydrate in all feeds. Yes, molasses contains 40% sugar. However, the 40% sugar content doesn’t necessarily translate into 40% sugar in the final product. It is also important to determine how much molasses-containing feed is being fed. Do you feed 1 to 2 cups of feed or 1-2 lbs? Do you feed your pet more than one cup of food per day? Or 8-10 lbs. per day?
A horse that receives only forage is likely to have sugars and starches in their diet. The amount depends on many factors, including the growing and processing of the horse. It can reach as high as 12 percent. Laboratory analysis is the only way to determine sugar and starch content of forages. There are no standard standards.
The website contains the total sugar and starch contents for Integrity products. This makes it easy to calculate and analyze the data. This information is provided by us.
Let’s look at 4 and 1 pounds of sweet feed containing 8% molasses to see if you still have concerns about molasses.
- 4 lbs. Feed x 0.08 (8% Molasses) = 32 Lb. Molasses in the 4 lbs. Feed
- 32 lb. 32 lb. = 5.1 oz. Molasses
- 1 oz. x 0.40 (40% Sugar in Molasses) = 2.04 Oz. Sugar (from 8% Molasses in this Feed)
Horses consume slightly more than 2 oz. Each day, the horse consumes approximately 4 lbs. of sugar from the Molasses. Sweet feed.
To offer a new and different perspective:
- 2 oz. 2 oz.
- 5 oz. 5 oz.
What if you feed only 1 pound of the 8 % molasses-based feed? This would mean that the amount you are feeding your pet would equal 1/4 of the above calculations.
- 1/2 oz. 1/2 oz.
- 1 1/4 oz. 1 1/4 oz.
Are you concerned that this is too much sugar? Consider the context!
This is not about us. We mean an animal that weighs 6 to 7 times as much as ours and who is carrying our weight while exercising. Horses who are trained to work hard are more productive than people.
A 1,000 lb. A horse working for one hour per day, 5-6 days a week, would receive 16 lbs. A grass hay and 4 pounds. A balanced diet is recommended. For this level of activity, a working horse must be fed hay. Volatile fatty acids (from hind gut fermentation) and fatty acid from fat/starches form glucose are the main fuel sources for horses. Fats and sugar can be enzymatically metabolized in the foregut. Protein is not a major source of fuel.
Horses require fat, sugars, and starches for fuel. These fuel sources can be readily found to fuel horses and provide a better matrix for replacing glycogen at the cellular level.
It’s not so simple as “… Does it contain molasses?”
In one study, molasses was fed either with corn or oats. Based on the results, the authors concluded that the influence of molasses on blood glucose levels would depend on the other feeds used to provide sugars and starches as well as how fast the horse consumes the feed. This observation is why I have always stressed Nutritional management.
Here are some questions to ask:
- What are the main sources of dietary carbohydrate from grass or hay?
- Are they sugars and starches made from grains like corn and barley
- What are the other ingredients in the formula?
- Is the formula designed to encourage chewing?
- How many meals are consumed each day?
- Are there any fattier feeds (since fat can be a positive factor in lowering blood glucose levels).
Integrity Products are designed to meet the nutritional requirements of horses. They also adhere to nutritional management principles such as:
- Contains soluble fiber sources that have positive effects on the health and movement of the gut
- Designed to encourage horses to chew, thereby slowing down their consumption and increasing their buffering capacity
- Contains moderate to high amounts of fat, thus having a positive impact on blood glucose levels
- No corn or barley, which are the highest starch and sugar grains
- Balanced to determine the relation of nutrients and energy
Horses need energy (calories) in order to sustain their activity and maintain their weight. The real problems are overfeeding and insufficient exercise .
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!