Animal feed resources information system

Beet molasses

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).


Click on the "Nutritional aspects" tab for recommendations for ruminants, pigs, poultry, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
Common names 

Beet molasses, sugar beet molasses, sugarbeet molasses [English]; mélasse de betterave [French]; melasse van zuikerbieten [Dutch]; Rübenmelasse [German]; melassa di barbabietola [Italian]; melaza de remolacha [Spanish]; melasy buraczane [Polish]; melaço de beterraba [Portuguese]; свекловичная патока [Russian]; دبس البنجر [Arabic]; biet melasse [Afrikaans]; סלק מולסה [Hebrew]; 甜菜糖蜜 [Chinese]

Related feed(s) 

Beet molasses is a viscous, dark and sweet, sugar-rich by-product of the sugar extraction from the beet root (Beta vulgaris L.). Beet molasses has a toffee flavour and is very palatable to cattle and pigs. It is a major feed ingredient, used as an energy source, as an appetizer and as a binder in compound feeds for all types of livestock including poultry.

Beet molasses is the syrupy by-product yielded after the crystallisation of sugar from concentrated sugar juice (see figure above)(SNFS, 2015; Crawshaw, 2004). The yield of beet molasses has been reported to be 36-40kg/tonne of sugar beet root processed (CNC, 2002).


Beet molasses is rich in uncrystallized sugar and has relatively high protein content in comparison to sugarcane molasses (3 times higher). Moreover all the protein is practically digestible (Crawshaw, 2004). Beet molasses is a valuable feed ingredient for ruminants but also for pigs and poultry. Beet molasses is a sticky ingredient, useful for making hard pellets. Beet molasses allow the feed granules to stick together during pelletization: the pellets that are less likely to break down during transportation and passage through feeding equipment (Blair, 2008). Other benefits of molasses addition are a reduction in dustiness of the dietary mixture (Blair, 2008). 

It can also be used to ease silage process as it provides valuable quickly fermentable sugar (Crawshaw, 2004). Beet molasses can also be used to make molasses-urea blocks (FAO, 2011; Beames, 1963).

Molasses is used for ethanol production and for yeast and fermentation industry (EBSSP, 2019). In the EU, 70% of beet molasses is used in ethanol production (EBSSP, 2019). In the USA, it is added to chloride salt for de-icing roads: it is more environmentally friendly (MidWest Agri, 2019).


Beet molasses is available wherever beet roots are extracted for sugar production. Beet molasses is produced worldwide. For every kilogram of sugar produced , about 285 g beet molasses is yielded (CNC, 2002). In 2013, out of a world production of sugar beet of 247 million tonnes, 231 millions were processed (FAO, 2019). It can roughly be assumed that 9 million tonnes beet molasses were yielded in 2013. In EU, more than 70% beet molasses go to alcohol and yeast production (EBSSP, 2019). In 2006, statistics showed that about13% molasses were used as feed worldwide. Assuming a similar rate is still relevant, it can be infered that in 2013 about 1 million tonnes are used as feed worldwide (Rolet, 2005).


Different processes

Beside the conventional process (see in Description) for beet molasses production, the Quentin process (substitution of K and Na ions by Mg ion) allows to crystallize more sugar and thus produce a beet molasse that is poorer in sugar but also richer in Mg (CNC, 2002).

Handling requirements

Beet molasses is a very viscous, semi-liquid ingredient beet molasses that requires large diameter tubes (over 80 mm in diameter) and heating during cold times for it to circulate from storage tanks to the feed mixer (Mavromichalis, 2013; CNC, 2002). In the USA, it is recommended that the temperature remain above 110 °F (43°C) while in France temperatures above 10°C are considered as the limit. Another way to prevent viscosity problems is to dilute beet molasses to 72–75% DM for sale and use on farm or in feed mills. (Harland et al., 2006).

Preservation and distribution

Thanks to its concentration in sugar beet molasses has high osmotic pressure and is not prone to micro-organisms contamination. However if beet molasses is diluted prior to being spread on the ration, it should not be kept more than 8 days because dilution dramatically reduces osmotic pressure (MidWest Agri, 2019; Harland et al., 2006; CNC, 2002).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Beet molasses is used like sugarcane molasses. It is primarily an energy source with a very high sugar content (63.3% DM), most of this sugar being saccharose (CNC, 2002). In comparison to sugarcane molasses, it has much higher protein content (14.2 % vs. 5.7% DM)(feedtables) (Feedipedia, 2019). The protein fraction in beet molasses is completely soluble: it contains 50% amino acids with a low amount od essential aminoacid and 50% NPN. Beet molasses is rich in betain, a N compound that provides methyl groups in metabolic reactions and can thus reduce animal requirement for choline (FEDNA, 2019). Beet molasses has the same feed value as sugarcane molasses but tends to be more laxative; the amounts of beet molasses fed should be less than those recommended for sugarcane molasses (CNC, 2002). 

En ambos casos, la fracción nitrogenada es totalmente soluble, estando constituída en un 50% por aminoácidos (principalmente aspártico y glutámico) y en un 50% por nitrógeno no proteico. La proporción de aminoácidos esenciales es muy baja. La melaza de remolacha es particularmente rica en betaína, un compuesto nitrogenado donador de grupos metilo en diversas reacciones metabólicas. Por ello, el uso de melaza de remolacha en la dieta puede reducir las necesidades de colina.

Potential constraints 

Parakeratosis like lesions

Molasses high sugar content may have deleterious effects on rumen where they cause lesions similar to parakeratosis: molasses must then be fed as a concentrate and used in combination with high fibre content roughage. The excess of potassium might have depressive effect on appetite by filling rumen with water (Bernard et al., 1991).

Soft faeces

Beet molasses are reported to result in soft faeces and diarrhoea in pigs and should thus be included at limited level only (Harland, 2006; UNEW, 2002)


Beet molasses is an excellent source of energy and minerals for ruminants (Daley, 2012; CNC, 2002). It can be fed in various ways and is very useful in many situations. 


In monogastric animals, the high levels of K and Na may cause soft faeces or diarrhoea which limits the level of inclusion of beet molasses in their diet (Harland et al., 2006).

For pigs, a safe level of inclusion was reported to range from  5% in growing pig diets to 10% in finishing pig diets (Yany et al., 1982). Higher levels may be fed, although soft,dark-coloured faeces may be a problem in some intensive systems (Harland et al., 2006).

In Greece, pigs could be fed on beet molasses at up to 40% dietary level (0, 10 and 30% for growing pigs; 0, 10 and 40% for fattening pigs). In growing pigs, increasing beet molasses levels had no effect on animal weight gain but increased feed/gain ratio. In fattening pigs, increasing beet molasses dietary level reduced weight gain and increased feed/gain ratio. However no diarrhoea occured, even at 40% dietary inclusion (Karamitros, 1987). 

In poland, it has been reported that pigs receiving a sweet drink made of water and beet molasses (16% in volume) on the day before slaughter had higher slaughtering yield and higher protein content than pigs receiving pure water (Wajda, 1997).

In organic sows, it was recommended to allow 20% beet molasses in the diet at farrowing time in order to prevent constipation issues (Blair, 2007).


Beet molasses can be part of poultry diets. It can be used to improve pellets quality (make them harder), an important trait in poultry feeding (Mavromichalis, 2013). High levels of beet molasses can however cause soft faeces or diarrhoea which is possibly due to alkaline salts or to non mineral substances like oligosaccharides, raffinose or nitrogenous compounds (Cuervo et al., 1972; Ewing, 1963). Its high level of K may also increase water consumption and have deleterious effects on litter (wet litter) (Mavromichalis, 2013)

Beet molasses fed to growing chicks and laying hens at 10% and 20% dietary inclusion respectively had no adverse effect on animal performance (Keshavarz et al., 1980).

The level of inclusion of beet molasses in poultry diet is therefore limited to 10 % or less (between 2 and 6%)(Mavromichalis, 2013; Harland et al., 2006).


Sugar-beet molasses are used in rabbit feeding in the same manner than sugarcane molasses. The reasons to use one or the other type of molasses are based on one hand on the price and local availability of each type of molasses and on the other hand on the search of the lowest possible potassium content (<1.8% K in the final balanced diet, Lebas 2004). In the past, this K content was frequently claimed higher in the sugar-beet molasses than in sugarcane molasses, but in fact the content of the 2 molasses types are currently similar: 5.1% on average for both with a higher variability for the sugarcane molasses (SD of 1.3% vs 0.8%).
For all technical constraints for uses of sugar beet molasses in rabbit feeding, see the sugarcane molasses section

Horses and donkeys 

In horses, like in other livestock species, beet molasses is considered a good appetizer and an improver of pellets quality. However, in some Internet forums, beet molasses has been reported to have deleterious effects on horse health for several reasons that rooted in the history of feeding horses with beet molasses.

Actually, the level of beet molasses included in the diet of horses was very high and could result in health issues (kidney stones). At the beginning of the 20th century safe level of inclusion was  reduced reported to be 10.0–16.5% (Morrison, 1936). More recently, recommended feeding levels have been considerably lower than this and beet molasses is reported as a non usual feed for horses in France (Trillaud-Geyl et al., 2015).

Levels of beet molasses inclusion in both forage (hay) based diets and cereal diets have been investigated. Horses and ponies were introduced over a period of time to beet molasses up to a maximum level of 1 kg/head/day. Beet molasses represented on average 10% of intake. Above this level of intake, water intake increased and faeces sometimes became soft, although this was not severe enough to cause distress to the horses (Pillner et al., 1986, unpublished observations cited by Harland et al., 2006).

K and Na provision by beet molasses may be valuable for horses as they counteract the loss of eletrolytes and thus maintain osmotic pressure in tissues when the horse is sweating. Beet molasses have also been reported to have high Cr content, a trace element that could prevent insuline resistance (Aellig, 2018).

It has been concluded that levels of up to 10% are probably quite acceptable (Harland et al., 2006). In Switzerland, 6% inclusion is recommended in horse diet (Agroscope, 2016). In France, 3-5% inclusion is recommended (Trillaud-Geyl et al., 2015).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 75.7 1.8 71.0 80.4 529
Crude protein % DM 14.3 1.5 11.4 17.9 461
Crude fibre % DM 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.3 9
Ether extract % DM 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.3 4
Ash % DM 12.7 1.6 10.2 17.9 471
Total sugars % DM 63.2 3.6 55.5 70.4 397
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 15.5 0.5 14.7 16.6 10 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 1.1 0.6 0.3 2.9 108
Phosphorus g/kg DM 0.3 0.2 0.1 0.8 108
Potassium g/kg DM 51.2 8.2 34.8 68.4 63
Sodium g/kg DM 7.2 2.2 3.9 15.5 131
Magnesium g/kg DM 0.6 1.0 0.1 3.2 9
Amino acids Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Alanine % protein 1.8 1
Arginine % protein 0.8 1
Aspartic acid % protein 5.4 1
Cystine % protein 0.6 1
Glutamic acid % protein 47.8 1
Glycine % protein 1.7 1
Histidine % protein 0.5 1
Isoleucine % protein 2.6 1
Leucine % protein 2.6 1
Lysine % protein 1.4 1
Methionine % protein 0.2 1
Phenylalanine % protein 0.4 1
Proline % protein 0.9 1
Serine % protein 2.1 1
Threonine % protein 0.6 1
Tyrosine % protein 2.6 1
Valine % protein 1.8 1
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 88.7 6.1 80.8 96.3 7
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 88.4 7.0 79.7 97.5 7
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 13.7 1.1 12.0 14.8 6 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 11.4 0.7 10.3 12.0 6 *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 72.1 16.2 34.3 87.2 8 *
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 89.9 *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 13.9 *
Poultry nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
AMEn cockerel MJ/kg DM 12.3 *
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 91.9 *
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 14.2 1
Nitrogen digestibility, rabbit % 78.6 1
MEn rabbit MJ/kg DM 13.6 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


ADAS, 1986; AFZ, 2011; Hindrichsen et al., 2004; Huhtanen, 1988; Karalazos et al., 1988; Maertens et al., 1985; Murphy et al., 1993; Steg et al., 1985; Vargas et al., 1965; Woodman, 1945

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:44:36

Datasheet citation 

DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/711 Last updated on February 22, 2019, 13:49