Introduction

Energy is used for controlling the environmental conditions in confinement animal housing to provide desirable conditions so animals will be subjected to low stress resulting in high productivity. This includes ventilation, heating, lighting, manure handling and feed handling. Ventilation and lighting use electrical energy while heating could use electricity, heating oil, propane, natural gas and sometimes bio-fuels such as wood. Manure and feed handling could use electricity, gasoline, or diesel fuel. Knowing how much and where energy is used in a typical enterprise will help a farmer in deciding where to invest time and money to cut energy costs. Energy surveys of farms can indicate how much and where energy may be used on a particular farm enterprise. There are several surveys of dairy farm energy use to help quantify how much energy is used for different operations on a dairy. There is variation between regions depending on the amount of ventilation needed for cooling and regional differences in facility design that affect energy use (Table 1).

Table 1: Dairy Farm Energy use (excluding field operations) – percentage of total energy use. Sources: 6- Aluel G. Webinar presentation- June 23, 2011. Michigan Farm Energy Audit Program - Dairy Ventilation, Manure Systems and Fuel Cost Comparisons, Michigan State University. 2-New York State Energy Research And Development Authority. 2003. Dairy Farm Energy Audit Summary.

 

Having a benchmark to compare your own farm’s energy use to, can help determine if there are addition savings possible. A NYS Dairy Farm survey cited an efficient dairy as one that used 750 kWh per cow per year or less (2).

Table 2: Electrical use distribution – Swine Farrowing to Finish. Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs, Ministry of Energy, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Hydro One Networks, Ontario Power Authority. 2007. Phase II: On-Farm Energy Audit Program, RFP No. OSS-073065.

Table 2: Electrical use distribution – Swine Farrowing to Finish. Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs, Ministry of Energy, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Hydro One Networks, Ontario Power Authority. 2007. Phase II: On-Farm Energy Audit Program, RFP No. OSS-073065.

Swine production typically requires heating during part of the production cycle as well as ventilation and lighting. Energy use in southwest Minnesota averaged 10.09 kWh per pig for electrical usage and 0.58 gallons of LP gas per pig for space heating or approximately 87500 Btu per pig (3). A Canadian energy survey of swine farrow-to-finish farms showed the average electrical use was 31 kWh per 100 kg (approximately the weight of one finished pig) which is equivalent to 105,800 Btu per pig without space heating included (1), significantly more than Minnesota producers reported energy use. There were only 10 farms in the Canadian survey which may influence the energy values. The breakdown of where electrical energy was used is listed in Table 2. A study of Iowa swine production systems estimated the direct energy use for a conventional confinement operation at 190,600 Btu per market pig (136 kg) versus a hoop barn requires about 74,310 Btu per market pig (6A). However because the hoop barn system isn’t heated, the pigs require 2.5% more feed which results in the total energy require per pig to be 1 percent higher although less fossil fuel energy is used.

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