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Enhancing Dairy Prosperity - High Oleic Soybeans Show Promise
Ohio Ag Connection - 02/19/2024

Boosting dairy rations with high oleic soybeans is gaining attention for its potential benefits, not just in human food, but also in improving dairy production. High oleic soybeans, created through biotechnological innovation, have a higher oleic acid content compared to traditional soybeans, making them suitable for various applications.

Keenan McRoberts, VP of Strategic Alignment for the United Soybean Board, highlights the opportunity to increase profits and butterfat yield in dairy rations by incorporating whole high oleic soybeans. Unlike traditional roasted soybeans, which contain polyunsaturated fatty acids harmful to rumen microbes, high oleic soybeans show promise in avoiding milk fat depression, enhancing overall milk fat concentration, and increasing profitability for dairy operations.

A 2020 study from Penn State University revealed that feeding high oleic soybeans resulted in higher milk fat concentration and yield compared to normal roasted soybeans. The economic analysis based on multiple studies over several years indicated increased profitability, even during varying milkfat prices.

Challenges include the limited acreage of high oleic soybeans and market premium costs. Currently, high oleic soybeans are grown on over a million acres nationwide, with anticipated expansion, especially in the upper Midwest and Northeast, for the 2024 planning season. McRoberts envisions potential supply chain benefits and increased adoption of high oleic soybeans in dairy rations.

Feeding whole high oleic soybeans directly from the farm to the dairy could create a hyperlocal value chain, and ongoing research will explore the opportunity cost of using these beans for dairy production instead of extraction for food use. Despite challenges, the advantages of digestibility and profit potential make incorporating high oleic soybeans into dairy rations a promising prospect for the future.

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