The Effect of Fat Supplementation on Milk Fat Melting Temperature

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2022: $14,291.00
Projected End Date: 07/31/2024
Grant Recipient: The Pennsylvania State University
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Kevin Harvatine, PhD
Penn State University


  • Animals: bovine
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: feed additives

    Proposal abstract:

    Fatty acid (FA) supplements are commonly fed to lactating dairy cows to increase energy intake and milk fat yield, but these supplements also shift milk FA profile and ultimately influence the physical characteristics of milk fat. Consumers have recently voiced interest in butter melting properties as highlighted by the large controversy over the effect of FA supplements on butter hardness. This started with a Canadian tweet that subsequently went viral, making international news as “Buttergate”. The objective of this proposal is to characterize how increasing dietary palmitic acid affects milk fat melting temperature compared to stearic acid or a no-supplement control. The hypothesis is that palmitic acid will increase milk fat melting temperature compared to stearic acid or control, with greater differences observed at higher doses. We will analyze the melting properties of milk fat using differential scanning calorimetry from milk samples collected during the applicant’s (Alanna Staffin’s) USDA sponsored trial studying the influence of palmitic and stearic acid dose on mammary metabolism and milk FA profile. This SARE proposal will provide timely characterization of the impact of FA type and dose on milk fat physical characteristics. The results will be communicated through a variety of extension platforms such as the Penn State Dairy Nutrition workshop and online resources as well as in academic settings through peer-reviewed journals and conferences. Ultimately, this proposal will allow northeastern dairy producers, nutritionists, and processors to make more informed decisions regarding dietary interventions that influence butter quality to stay competitive or create niche products.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Characterize how increasing palmitic acid supplementation affects melting properties of milk fat compared to stearic acid supplementation or a no-supplement control
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.