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Economic Analysis of High-Oleic Soybeans in Dairy Rations

Nicholson, C., M. Stephenson, L. Armentano and K. Harvatine

We evaluate the potential economic impact of using high-oleic soybeans (HOS) in dairy rations based on a synthesis of results from 5 prior feeding trials. Milk Income Less Feed Costs (MILFC) per cow per day is calculated based on assumed increases in milkfat production and increased cost of rations including HOS. Impacts of changes in MILFC are evaluated for herds with different numbers of milking cows, and the total volume of HOS required to support different proportions of US dairy cows is calculated. A dynamic supply chain model assesses the potential market impacts of increases in butterfat supply. The increase in milkfat from the substitution of 5% of ration dry matter with whole HOS (1.4 kg cow−1 day−1) has the potential to increase MILFC by up to $0.27 cow−1 day−1, or an increase the average value of milk by $0.29/45.4 kg for a cow producing 41 kg /day. Changes in MILFC are highly correlated with the price of butter but were positive for butter prices observed from January 2014 to September 2020.

HOS impacts on MILFC suggest the potential for increases in farm profitability of $33,000 per year for a dairy feeding 500 milking cows. Scaled-up use of HOS by US dairy farmers would increase butterfat supplies and lower the butterfat price to a small extent, but these aggregated effects do not offset the positive impacts of MILFC at the farm level.