Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Benefits of Molasses for your Flock


Molasses, specifically blackstrap molasses. can be used as 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. 

Too much molasses can cause diarrhea, which can actually be a good thing if you suspect poisoning or an intestinal issue, but in moderation, molasses delivers quite the nutritional punch AND chickens love it.  

Blackstrap 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. It aids in building muscles and heart health. Molasses is used as a binder and energy source in many types of livestock feed due to its palatability.  So-called 'sweet feeds' for cattle, horses, goats and pigs all contain molasses.


There is a bit of molasses in Thomas Labs Brewer's Yeast & Garlic Powder, a natural pest control product  that I mix into our daily layer feed.


Nutri-Drench is an all natural molasses-based, vitamin-rich supplement that helps ailing or weak hens, 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.  

Poultry Nutri-Drench, 4 oz

It's a good idea to keep a bottle of blackstrap molasses on hand. Just in case.  In an emergency, it can also be used as a 'laxative flush'. Chickens can contract botulism, a fatal disease caused by eating moldy feed or from mildewed bedding, and 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.  Poultry can also contract intestinal diseases. 


A laxative flush can speed recovery in both those cases, as well as in a case of accidental poisoning, by absorbing the toxins and flushing them out of the body. Mixing 1 pint of molasses into a 5-gallon waterer and allowing the stricken hens access for 8 hours is recommended. (Source: The Chicken Encyclopedia by Gail Damerow/Storey Publishing 2012)

Ironically, molasses also helps replace vitamins and minerals lost after a bout of diarrhea. A bit drizzled on a recovering hen's feed will encourage her to eat as well as replenish her deleted energy stores.

Periodically, it can be beneficial to administer a ' cleansing mash'  to your flock.  It will help cleanse their digestive tracts and intestines, as well as reintroduce good bacteria to their guts.  

Cleansing Mash

1 Jar unsweetened apple sauce (8-10 oz.) or several cored apples pureed in a food processor 
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1/4 Cup plain yogurt 

Feed free choice to grown hens. 
*Note: Molasses should never be given to baby chicks, only older and laying hens

If you don't already own a copy of The Chicken Encyclopedia by Gail Damerow, pick up a copy soon! More than a reference book, it has health tips, trivia, beautiful photos and drawings. It is our go-to reference for all things chicken.


18 comments:

  1. Wow! Great information!!! I'll be pinning it!

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    1. Wonderful! I love finding homemade remedies and preventatives. This was interesting research to do.

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  2. I used the nutri drench on the girls when they were molting,just added a little to morning oatmeal.It definitely helped them recover faster.

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  3. I keep nutridrech on hand for my hens and my goats..and blackstrap molasses in the kit as well. Thank you for sharing wonderful information to aid us in our flock health.

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  4. Thanks for the great post! I will add this to my arsenal.

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  5. I won't be able to buy most of the things mentioned in chicken health so have to go the DIY way. The nutri-drench has what in it if I may ask? I always have blackstrap molasses on hand. My chickens will be living the way flocks did decades ago so appreciate all the info I get from your blog and your readers. Thanks in advance. Deb

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    1. Hey I am with you, the DIY way is the best anyway, I just always recommend a commercial product if there is one that is all natural so people can choose. The Nutri-drench is just molasses and a bunch of vitamins. I would recommend adding a bit of molasses from time to time as a cleanser and good work having it in your 'first aid kit' - although mine resides in our kitchen cabinet because I also use it in breads and cookies!

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    2. Actually I am getting chickens in spring so don't have any now but I'm collecting info, I like it in print, so mine is in the house too for now. I've gotten a lot of things printed off in preparation for my chickens. Do you know what all is in Vetricyn as I can never afford that? I'm all for natural remedies with my own plants and do several things I use myself. Thanks again, I certainly appreciate it. DEb

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    3. Nope Vetricyn keeps it secret, BUT it is natural and if you do splurge on anything I highly recommend it being a bottle. We use it on our dog when she gets itchy from allergies, on our horse when he scraped his leg on a nail..its big squirt bottle and you only use a tiny bit so it lasts.

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  6. My girl Dot was attacked by a dog on Christmas Eve. She was virtually stripped of most of her body feathers and sustained a large tear in her skin near her vent. I gave her a few doses of Nutridrench and put some in her water, kept her in the house for a few nights and she's all but recovered! New feathers are coming in and she's still laying eggs!

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    1. Wonderful to hear your girl is OK. I don't have any yet but read all the stories of how hardy hens can be after getting into some type of trauma. I'll know info for mine when I get them in a couple months. Deb

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  7. I have been using Unsulphured Black Strap Molasses for many years with my horses and even using it for myself. Great to know I can use it with the chickens.
    I buy it at the Bulk Food Store, seems to have the best price.

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  8. Are times during the year that are better than others to my girls the Cleansing Mash? Thanks for this good information.

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    1. Great question. I would say spring and fall at the very least. Just before they are going to be spending a lot of time cooped up and just before they start spending time out in the muddy run.

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  9. Great to know! I also use on my horses when I have to give meds--I mash the pills and mix with Molasses and put in a syringe to give meds! I also use to mix in the feed to give em meds as well! I have a 34 year old horse that takes meds often!! The horses love it and now I find out my chickens will love it as well!

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  10. Excellent information! I pinned it also. The only thing I really use molasses for is as a booster when a ewe gives birth & as a wormer when added to garlic. I'll now be adding it to the oats I sprout for my chickens. Thank you so much.

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  11. Definitely adding this black strap molasses to my grocery list. Gotta keep the girls healthy!

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