Balanced diets will be crucial if current market opportunities are to be exploited. Molasses based blends can play a cost-effective role in diet formulation.

“While beef prices are at record highs, so are input costs,” conceded Georgina Chapman from molasses blends specialists ED&F Man. “But with lower beef imports strengthening the UK market, there will be opportunities especially with good stocks of feed barley on many farms”.

“But margins are likely to remain tight, meaning that the crucial KPIs will be daily liveweight gain (DLWG) and daily ration cost/ head/day.”

Ms Chapman advises that both KPIs need to be considered together. If the consequence of achieving a low feed cost per day is lower DLWG then the economics will not balance. Using cheaper ingredients may mean that inclusion rates need to increase, impacting on total cost.

“The aim must be to formulate a balanced ration, achieving the target DLWG at the optimum daily ration cost, and then to monitor performance closely. The diet must supply sufficient energy and protein, but also a balanced supply of both to the rumen.

“Molasses blends can play a big part in achieving this. Cane molasses is a rich source of 6-Carbon sugars shown to improve rumen fermentation. It is highly palatable and proven to increase dry matter intake. Trial work has demonstrated that molasses can, increase DLWG, maintain an optimal rumen pH and improve overall digestive efficiency.

“ED&F Man Liquid Products are able to combine molasses with other raw materials to provide a range of products suitable for all situations and systems. Our unique high protein Regulated Release blends are a research proven protein-urea-molasses complex which is an excellent source of both Effective Rumen Degradable Protein (ERDP) and Fermentable Metabolisable Energy (FME).”

With prices not directly affected by the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and disruption to cereal supplies, Ms Chapman suggests this could be the summer to consider adding a molassesbased blend to growing and finishing rations.