Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/20/2010
Publication Date: 4/1/2010
Citation: Soder, K.J., Brito, A.F., Hoffman, K. 2010. Current Research on Molasses as an Alternative Energy Source for Organic Dairy Herds. Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance newsletter. 10(2): 30-32. Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.
Technical Abstract: As organic grain prices have increased and organic milk prices have decreased, dairy farmers are seeking lower-cost supplementation strategies. Sugarcane molasses, a rich source of sucrose, seems to be a viable option as a source of energy. Molasses frequently costs less per pound of dry matter than organic corn, is energy-dense, has high palatability, and is available in organic form. A group of experiments, combining on-farm, laboratory, and research farm projects, is in progress to evaluate the value of molasses as the sole supplemental feed for organic dairy cows. An on-farm study is evaluating how pasture quality and molasses feeding is working on an organic dairy farm in central New York over two grazing seasons. A winter-feeding study is currently being conducted at the UNH organic dairy to evaluate the effects of molasses, corn meal, and/or flaxseed supplementation on milk production, nitrogen utilization, nutrient digestibility, and milk composition (especially fatty acid profiles). In summer 2010, the effect of molasses vs. corn meal supplemented to grazing organic cows on milk production, milk composition, body condition, nutrient digestibility, and income over feed costs will be evaluated. Several continuous culture fermenter studies are being conducted to evaluate the effects of forage quality and molasses supplementation on nutrient digestibility. The strategy of conducting a combination of on-farm, laboratory, and research farm projects to examine a single management strategy is somewhat unique, and will hopefully result in better scientific answers to many of the questions being raised by organic dairy farmers.