Looking after the rumen bugs will be vital to get the most from grass silage and help keep costs under control this winter so it will pay to take a closer look at feeding molasses.


This year’s first and second cut grass silages are coming back with higher NDF and lignin contents than usual, making the forage more difficult to digest in the rumen.  At the same time, they are lower in the rapidly fermentable carbohydrates needed to feed the fibre digesting bacteria.

Together this means diets will need more fermentable metabolisable energy in supplements.  In addition, silages are low in Rumen Fermentable proteins which means nitrogen efficiency and protein sources will be important.


New Research

Against this background and with cereal prices high, we believe farmers should consider using molasses blends containing Regulated Release proteins as a cost-effective and efficient way to improve rumen health and forage utilisation.

New trials at the University of Reading supported by liquid feed specialists ED&F Man show the benefits of feeding molasses.

In the trial, mid-lactation cows were fed diets where up to 40% of the rape and soya was replaced with Regumaize 44, a 44% protein, 55% sugar, high protein molasses blend, but leaving the total dry matter feed the same.

The change in the diet-maintained milk yields and butterfat, while milk protein was increased from 3.62% to 3.71% due to the extra fermentable metabolisable energy in the Regumaize 44.

At today’s prices, the diet including Regumaize 44 saves nearly £5000 over the winter for a 200-cow herd.  For farmers on a constituent-based contract the additional milk protein would help support milk prices too.

While we would never recommend a total switch from conventional protein to a high protein molasses blend as this would compromise the total protein balance in the diet, a partial replacement could help reduce the impact of rising prices.

Adding a molasses blend to the diet has been a simple and effective way for Dave Bailey from Hilltop Farm, Bradworthy to increase milk constituents while feeding less protein to his herd of all year-round calving Holstein cows which average 11,300 litres at 4.35% fat and 3.3% protein.

Simple System

Selling milk on a Saputo contract means high milk quality is important to get the best price.  Dave is an advocate of keeping things simple with grass silage fed in ring feeders and cake in the parlour so there was limited scope to try anything new.

He is a great believer in ‘filling them up and lying them down’, so wants cows to eat quickly and then lie down to ruminate and maximise production.

In the autumn of 2020, Dave agreed to add Regumaize 44 to the diet to increase sugar levels to try and stimulate the rumen.  The blend was delivered into IBCs meaning it could be easily added to the diet, Dave simply tips 1.5kg/cow of Regumaize 44 over the silage before letting the cows back into feed.

Milk quality for the winter was the best ever.  This is something which is very much needed on his Saputo contract and with feed prices generally increasing.

Dave had been feeding an 18% compound in the parlour but Regumaize 44 helped with not only sugar, but also base diet protein content.  This has allowed him to switch to a 16% compound throughout the winter, helping keep a tight rein on feed costs.

Dave has kept feeding Regumaize this summer when cows were paddock grazing, pouring it on the grass silage buffer feed and is all set up to feed it right through the winter.

Molasses blends can be easily incorporated into most feeding systems, being quickly and easily added to the diet and could play a big part in maintaining margins this winter.

Talk to your Feed Specialist about including a molasses blend into your diet this winter or call the office on 01409 254 300.