Don’t add extra molasses to starter

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Too much molasses in calf starter could lead to reduced intake and growth, according to Penn State University research reported earlier this year in the January Journal of Dairy Science.

Calves fed a calf starter containing 12 percent molasses ate 22 percent less starter during the six-week study than calves fed a starter with 5 percent molasses. However, sugar intake was nearly identical in both groups, which indicates that calves fed 12 percent molasses were able to meet their energy needs more quickly from the higher sugar content of the starter. That may explain why the calves ate less total starter than those fed 5 percent molasses, says Jud Heinrichs, professor of dairy science at Penn State University.

Average daily gain also was 13 percent less in the calves fed starter with 12 percent molasses.

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