Molasses: Is it worth all the hype?

In short…No!

Molasses is a by-product of the refining of sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar and is quite commonly used in our cooking as well, being present in most wholegrain breads! The sugar present in molasses is mostly sucrose, the same sugar that is found in forage.
Molasses has gotten a bad name for itself in the equine world over the last few years with the thought being that a horse or pony would not naturally have sugar present in the diet.

In actual fact the majority of the sugar in your horse’s diet will be from forage (grass and hay/haylage), with an average 500kg horse living out at grass being able to consume as much as 2kg of sugar per day- the equivalent of 57 cans of coke! Compare this with 75g received by a 500kg horse from the recommended amount of Safe & Sound per day and you can see that molasses intake from hard feed is minimal.
If your horse is an ideal bodyweight and otherwise fit and healthy then this will not be a problem, however if the horse does require a low sugar diet then we need to look at the total diet rather than just the inclusion of individual ingredients such as molasses- just because feeds contain molasses doesn’t mean they are high in sugar. Even molasses free products will not be sugar free due to natural sugar content in raw materials.

In summary sugar forms part of your horse’s dietary intake and small amounts present in horse feed are not a problem. There is a lot of sometimes false information on the internet regarding sugar in a horse’s diet so if you have any concerns contact your feed company directly.