The feeding of molasses and molasses-based liquid feeds to sheep has been done successfully for many years. The unique physical nature and nutritional profile of molasses brings a number of significant benefits.

While there will always be a need to feed dry feed to sheep, using a molasses based liquid feed can prove invaluable.

Throughout the year the ewe faces a number of different nutritional and metabolic challenges and understanding what she is going through is hugely important.

Choosing the right tup and managing the flock well in the late summer when it may appear there is little stress on the ewe can have a major impact on the subsequent lambing season. Its is also advisable to scan ewes where possible and tailor the feeding program to single, twin and triplet carrying ewes.

This allows those ewes with the highest nutritional and management demands to get the extra attention needed and those with lower requirements not to be over fed.

Feeding sheep molasses

Molasses and molasses-based liquid feeds have been fed to sheep for many years and in many different ways. The unique fact that molasses is a liquid provides a number of benefits not seen in dry feeds.

There are a number of key times in the year when sheep feeding is critical, and molasses-based liquid feeds can prove invaluable. Although dry feeds and forages are necessary, a molasses-based liquid feed can be the ideal complementary feed in the ewes’ diet.

Molasses-based liquid feeds are unique in their high nutrient density and low substitution rate in the rumen, allowing feed intakes to be increased during critical periods.

One of the key benefits of high-sugar, molasses-based liquids is their ability to improve forage utilisation and fibre digestion, which is vital when feeding pregnant ewes.

The ideal synchrony of sugar and protein in the rumen ensures high protein efficiency and overall feed utilisation, which is key to improving ewes’ nutritional status and body condition score.


Getting ewes in good physical condition pre-tupping can help ensure maximum conception rates and higher lambing percentages. Offering a free access, high energy molasses-based liquid can help ensure ewes are in optimal condition for tupping.

Late pregnancy:

Seventy per cent of lamb growth occurs in the last two months of pregnancy therefore, later in the pregnancy as lamb growth increases, this creates pressure on the rumen, reducing feed intakes. Molasses-based liquid feeds are unique in having a low substitution rate, allowing feed intakes to be maintained, reducing the risk of metabolic disorders such as twin lamb disease.

Twin lamb disease, or Pregnancy Toxaemia, usually occurs in the last two months of pregnancy and occurs when the demand for energy is above what is being supplied by the feed and the ewe starts to breakdown fat to produce glucose.

This causes a build-up of ketones in the ewe which, if untreated, can result in death. As molasses is high in sugar, this helps the ewe produce the required glucose and avoid the need to breakdown fat.

The likelihood of these metabolic problems is increased significantly in cold, wet weather and as the number of lambs being carried increases.

Good flock management is essential to spot diseases early and its vital to remember that prevention is better than cure. Only 30 per cent of twin lamb disease cases are treated successfully. By supplementing the ewe effectively, in terms of both quantity and quality, twin lamb disease can be prevented.

Post Lambing:

Immediately after lambing, the ewes demand for energy and sugar is at its peak and providing a highly palatable and nutritionally dense liquid feed can prove vital in the early stages post lambing.

How to Feed Molasses-based liquids to sheep

There are a number of ways to feed molasses-based produces to sheep. These are:

Free access lick feeders

The easiest and most convenient way is to use free access feeders. This allows ewes to feed when they want to and encourages shy feeders to get supplemental feed and avoid the “scrum” when dry feed is offered once per day.

Older “broken mouth” ewes can also benefit from free access feeding, allowing them to feed slowly and steadily. Trial work has shown an even pattern of liquid feeding when a molasses-based liquid feed is offered to a group of ewes.

Top Dressing Forage

Pouring the molasses-based liquid feed over big bale silage or straw can be a simple feeding option to encourage forage intake and allow the use of lower quality forages while still maintaining nutritional effectiveness.

For best results, it is advisable to pour the molasses-based liquid feed over the forage bale several hours before feeding to allow it to effectively soak through.

Home mixing

Producing a home mix of rolled barley, protein concentrate pellet and a molasses liquid can be a nutritional and cost-effective way to feed sheep, although this does not come with the reduced stress benefits of free access feeding and can result in ewe lambs and shy feeders not getting their feed allocation.

TMR Feeding

Similar to home mixing, but also including forage in the mix allows TMR feeding to be effective on larger flocks. It’s possible to get excellent performance using a range of feed ingredients and mixed forages alongside a molasses-based liquid feed to balance the rations, supply supplemental sugars and increase feed intakes.

There are benefits of free access all day feeding, but the system only suits larger flocks due to the investment in machinery and feed storage and handling.

Typical feeding rates for molasses-based liquid feeds are around 250-300g/day for a ewe in late pregnancy and more may be needed if triplets are being carried.

Which Molasses-based liquid products to feed to Sheep?

The choice of product is often dependent on the feeding system. If you are using a free access lick feeder system, then a specially formulated “free access” feed is required to prevent over consumption and ensure targeted nutrition.

Products such as Sheepmol, Sheepmol Plus and Prime 20 are ideally suited for this. All ED&F Man’s sheep products are high in sugar. The Sheepmol range is fortified with high energy Glycerine, the unique mix of energy sources is perfect to promote healthy lamb growth and maintain ewe health.

Prime 20 includes 20% as feed Regulated Release protein, ideal for balancing low protein forages. Both Sheepmol Plus and Prime 20 contain a vitamin and trace element package.

Potblack is a 14 per cent crude protein blend which can help to improve the intake of forages and is ideal for top dressing forage.


There are a number of key benefits of feeding a high sugar, molasses-based liquid feed with the key ones being:

  • Maximise feed and nutrient intake, especially in late pregnancy
  • Readily available energy and sugar to reduce the risk of dangerous metabolic disease
  • Drive forage intake and stimulate fibre digestion
  • Help deal with poor forage quality and balance out variations
  • Ad-lib feeding reduces stress for sheep and saves time for the shepherd
  • Easy and convenient to store, handle and feed.

Like any livestock system there are no magic bullets or short cuts to success. Good flock management is vital and attention to detail is key. Choosing the right

supplemental feeding strategy, both in terms of product feed and feeding system, can have a significant impact on profitability as well as maintaining animal welfare.

If you’d like to know more about how molasses can benefit your sheep or would like support around incorporating molasses into your feed, get in touch.