Dairy Farm Energy Consumption

With oil prices at a three year high, electricity prices are on the increase by as much as 30% quoted for farm contract renewals, it is an opportune time to review best practice, work out where you use the electric on your farm and ascertain how efficient this use is.

On a dairy farm milk cooling uses 31%, heating water uses 23% and milking uses 20% of electric consumption.  The target electric bill should be 0.45 ppl with a minimum of 40% off peak (potential to be as high as  55%).  How do you compare?

A plate cooler to precool milk prior to entering bulk tank is a given with a quick return on this investment.  You need 2L water to cool a litre of milk.  A high flow rate is required, not a large plate cooler, to be efficient.  Variable speed milk pumps are the most efficient.

Below are the relative costs of heating water using different systems.  Ensure time clocks are set correctly and if using electric heating system, make sure that the element is maintained lime deposit free in a hard water area.

Water Heating  (£/100 Litres)
Day Elec  1.75
Night Elec  0.88
Oil    0.58
Gas    0.79

Heat Recovery Systems – This is where heat is extracted from the hot milk and recycled to help heat water.  This investment used in conjunction with precooling milk results in a 6 year payback i.e. 16% return on investment.

Milk Vacuum Pumps are a big area for saving if you have a vari-speed pump installed.  With 3 phase supplies there is a five year payback, but beware this doubles to 10 years to get your investment back on single phase supplies.

When prices are hiked the natural reaction is to focus on the market and try and control the uncontrollable.  It is much easier and productive to look closer to home and ensure the more expensive electric is being used wisely.  Would your business benefit from an energy audit and see where savings can be made to counter the more expensive electric?

For further information, contact Gerard at gerardfinnan@fcgagric.com or your local FCG office.

Posted in Business Management, Dairy & Forage, Sherborne.