Submitted to: Proceedings of the National Conference on Grazing Lands
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: December 20, 2009
Publication Date: January 20, 2010
Citation: Hoffman, K., Chase, L.E., Soder, K.J. 2010. Molasses as the Primary Energy Supplement on an Organic Grazing Dairy Farm. In: Proceedings of the National Conference on Grazing Lands. National Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, Sparks, NV. P. 414-419.
Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Organic dairies in New York face challenges, including the high cost of purchasing organic feed grains. Many of these farms are looking for alternative ingredients to use that can be reasonably fed to lactating dairy cows, and that are less costly. Molasses seems to be a viable, less expensive, source of supplemental energy and vitamins. Farmers ask about molasses as an alternative based on testimonials from other farmers. Research has been conducted on molasses as feed for many decades, much of it published in the 1950’s through the early 1970’s. There is much more known about dairy nutrition today, so results of that research may not be directly applicable to today’s knowledge. Also, little of it was conducted with dairy cows fed a high rate of molasses as the sole energy supplement, or with dairy cows grazing cool season pastures in the United States. However, anecdotal results have been mixed on some farms that have used molasses as the sole energy source. This could be due to a variety of management or feed quality factors, but it is not currently known which factors have the greatest influence on success, failure, and those in between. This research project quantified on a monthly basis milk production and other animal performance measures on an organic dairy farm in Central New York that is currently feeding molasses successfully. Forage quality, nutritional data, economics, and other management techniques being used on the farm were assessed. The information gathered will be used to develop recommendations for successful use of molasses on organic dairies to be disseminated to the industry.