The following information is from a research study titled “Evaluating the Quality of Roasted Soybeans”

“Evaluating the Quality of Roasted Soybeans”
Larry D. Satter, Jih-Tay Hsu and Tilak Raj Dhiman
U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center
USDA – Agricultural Research Service
Madison, WI

The Facts Are In…

“Large increases in milk production are possible when early lactation cows are fed properly heated soybeans. We conducted a large scale lactation study to measure milk production when soybeans were heated to 295 degrees F and steeped for 30 min. (Faldet et al., 1991) Forty-six multiparous Holstein cows were fed one of three total mixed diets from 15 to 119 d postpartum with alfalfa silage as the only forage. Each diet contained 50% forage and 50% concentrate on a DM basis. Diets were formulated to be isonitrogenous by replacing corn and solvent soybean meal with raw soybeans or heat-treated soybeans. The proportion of protein supplement in the diet on a DM basis for the three groups was 10% soybean meal, 13% raw soybeans, or 13% heat treated soybeans. The soybean meal diet was fed to all cows during week 1 and 2 postpartum for covariate adjustment of dry matter intake and milk production. Intake of DM was similar across treatments. Feeding heat-treated soybeans supported milk (9.9 lbs/d), 3.5% FCM (8.8lbs/d), and milk protein (.2lbs/d) than soybean meal or raw soybeans. Milk fat percentage was not altered by treatments. However, milk protein percentage was depressed in cows fed heat-treated soybeans compared with soybean meal (2.85 vs. 2.99%, respectively).”

“Figure 1 contains a plot of the unadjusted mean daily milk production for cows in this experiment. Cows fed the heat processed soybeans achieved a higher peak milk production and reached the peak 2 – 4 weeks later than the soybean meal group or the unheated soybean group.”

“A large number of lactation studies have been conducted with heat processed soybeans and there is little doubt that well roasted soybeans can be a very effective supplement for lactating cows, particularly when alfalfa silage or hay are the principal forage.”

Feed Roasted Soybeans in Half or Quarter Pieces

Avoid feeding roasted soybeans smaller than 1/4 of a whole soybean. That’s what researchers at the University of Wisconsin and the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center reported in the August 1997 Journal of Dairy Science.

Cows fed finely ground, roasted soybeans excreted 0.37 oz of soybean particles per pound of fecal dry matter and produced 81.4 lbs. of milk per day. On the other hand, cows fed roasted soybeans in 1/2 and 1/4 sizes excreted more soybean particles per pound of fecal dry matter – but produced 85.1 pounds of milk per day – almost 4 lbs more than cows fed finely ground, roasted soybeans.

Although finely ground, roasted soybeans resulted in less soybean particles lost in the feces, these soybeans were degraded more rapidly in the rumen than soybeans in 1/2 or 1/4 sizes. Thus, the protein in finely ground, roasted soybeans were less available to the cow, which was reflected in lowered milk production.

Bottom line: Feed roasted soybeans split in half or one-fourth pieces for optimal milk production.