For many years, molasses has been an important part of livestock feeds. In some cases it is used as a binder to hold feed components together and in other cases it is used to increase palatability. It is also used in water during cold months to encourage drinking by adding a good taste to it. Since molasses is sweet, it appeals to animals that are desirous of sweet tastes to enjoy.
Molasses has more advantages than its taste and binding abilities, however. In moderate amounts, it offers health benefits to the heart and enables the building of muscle. Blackstrap molasses, which is the proper choice for chickens, is also high in iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, all of which are important to a chicken's health.
Photo: Native Food Blog
The key to incorporating molasses into your chickens' diets is determining how much you want to use and for what purpose. For example, molasses in small amounts as a feed additive will give you the benefits mentioned above (heart/muscle health, added nutrients, etc.). When using it for such benefits, the amount you give needs to be carefully measured and administered. Otherwise, you may be providing too much of a good thing which can result in diarrhea.
When you think of dealing with diarrhea, you might want to immediately stop in your tracks at the thought of adding the molasses that could cause such a thing. While causing diarrhea by accident with only the best of intentions at heart is unfortunate, sometimes diarrhea can be a good thing, hard to believe though it is. Think about how you would need to induce vomiting in a child that swallowed something poisonous. Well, the same basic type of plan applies to chickens.
Photo: Zen to Fitness
In the event that your chickens were to consume something dangerous or toxic to them, you're going to want to remove that toxin from their bodies as soon as possible. This can be easier said than done, unless you have blackstrap molasses on hand. By mixing molasses with water and offering it to an ill chicken at a ratio of 1 pint molasses to 5 gallons of water, you can basically create a case of diarrhea that will flush the system of the affected bird, pushing toxins through at an accelerated rate that could save a life. You may worry that intentionally causing diarrhea will cause nutrient loss and make bouts of illness worse, but rest assured that molasses will replace the nutrients lost through diarrhea passage.
Adding some blackstrap molasses to your first aid kit may prove beneficial even if you aren't sure you want to feed it regularly, although there are reasons to embrace feeding it as well (except to baby chicks-feed molasses only to adult birds). In fact, molasses can be found in products you are probably already familiar with, such as Nutri-Drench. This product actually has a molasses base and is proven to aid in conquering ailments as well as weakness, which is likely in large part due to the molasses it contains. If you haven't already done so, give some thought to keeping molasses on hand. You never know when it just might save the day.