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Benefits of Molasses for Chickens

Molasses has some super health benefits for the backyard flock of chickens.

Molasses, specifically black strap molasses, can be an important addition to your chickens' diet. Although too much molasses will cause diarrhea, a small amount can be beneficial to your hens' health.

 As with most things, moderation is the key.

What is Black strap Molasses?

Black strap molasses is is the extremely thick, dark liquid left after the third boiling of cane sugar. 

The sugar is extracted, leaving the residual molasses which is extremely high in calcium, magnesium and iron, as well as potassium. 

Molasses is used as a binder and energy source in many types of livestock feed due to its palatability.

Livestock are attracted to the sweet taste. So-called sweet feeds" for cattle, horses, goats and pigs all contain molasses, as do deer feed mixes.

Benefits of Molasses for Chickens

Molasses aids in building muscles and in heart health. It's also jam-packed with nutrients and acts as a mild laxative. Fed in moderation, molasses delivers quite the nutritional punch AND chickens love it.

There are several situations when administering molasses to your chickens is a good idea and can help them recover more quickly. These are just a few scenarios where molasses might help.

Case of Suspected Poisoning or Eating a Toxic Substance

Too much molasses can cause diarrhea, which can actually be a good thing if you suspect poisoning or an intestinal issue.

If you suspect one of your chickens has eaten something toxic while out free ranging, offering some molasses might help her flush out the toxins.

Energy Boost for Shipped Chicks

Adding a bit of molasses to your chicks' water when they first arrive will give them an energy and nutrient boost, similar to giving them sugar water. Being shipped can be stressful for the chicks, so giving them a little boost of nutrients and energy is a good idea. 

Offering one bowl of plain water and one bowl of molasses water for the first few days can help get your chicks off to a healthy start.

*Note: Care should  always be given when offering molasses to baby chicks, since it can cause diarrhea in poultry of all ages, which can easily dehydrate small chicks. Just a drop or two is usually sufficient for baby chicks and after the first few days only administered to those who seem to be ailing or struggling and discontinued if any signs of diarrhea are noted.

To Combat Botulism

In an emergency, molasses can also be used as a "laxative flush". Chickens and ducks can contract botulism, a fatal disease caused by eating moldy feed or from mildewed bedding, or drinking stagnant water. It is often fatal - the infected bird can die within hours if not treated and the toxins expelled.

That is a very real fear of mine since we keep ducks with our chickens and the ducks get the feed wet very quickly.

A laxative flush can speed recovery in this case, as well as in a case of accidental poisoning, by absorbing the toxins and flushing them out of the body.

To Treat Intestinal Issues

Poultry can also contract intestinal diseases. Mixing 1 pint of molasses into a 5-gallon waterer and allowing the ailing hens access for 8 hours is a natural treatment that I've seen recommended in various poultry health books and educational sites.

To Replace Lost Vitamins and Minerals

Ironically, although too much molasses can cause diarrhea, molasses also helps replace vitamins and minerals lost after a bout of diarrhea. A of molasses water offered to a recovering hen will help her to replenish her deleted energy stores after she has battled intestinal issues.

To Encourage a Sick Chicken to Eat

A little bit of black strap molasses drizzled on your chickens' feed can also encourage a sick chicken to eat.

Since animals generally like the taste of molasses, drizzling a bit on top of their feed can encourage the chicken to eat and help boost a flagging appetite.

Molasses Cleansing Mash for Chickens

Periodically, a molasses cleansing mash can be beneficial for your otherwise healthy flock.  It will help cleanse their digestive tracts and intestines, as well as reintroduce good bacteria to their guts.

Molasses Cleansing Mash

(for a dozen hens)

 Three or four apples, cored and grated or pureed
1/4 cup plain unflavored yogurt
1 teaspoon black strap molasses

Mix the ingredients then feed free-choice to grown hens. 

Commercial Molasses-Based Product

Nutri-Drench is an all natural molasses-based, vitamin-rich supplement that helps ailing or weak chickens, corrects vitamin deficiencies and  boosts immune systems. 

I consider it a must for any chicken first aid kit since chickens love the taste of it, so even an ailing hen will be tempted to eat a bit of food with Nutri-Drench mixed in.  

But in a pinch, it's a good idea to also keep a bottle of black strap molasses on hand. Just in case.  

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