There are many possibilities for saving energy on dairy farms. In general, dairy farm use between 800 and 1200 kWh/cow-yr of electricity but in one study the range was from 424 to 1736 kWh/cow-year. The surprising thing is that both of these were in freestall operations. Data from the Center for Dairy Profitability indicates that utility costs on the average dairy farm account for less than 2% of milk production costs on all sizes of farms although as one might suspect the utility costs per cow decreased as farm size increased. A recent study indicated that 46% of the electrical use was for milk harvesting (vacuum pump, milk cooling and water heating), another 46% was used for lighting and ventilation and the remaining 6% was for feeding, manure handling and other miscellaneous uses. Milk cooling accounted for the largest block of electrical usage at 25% with lighting surprisingly being the second largest user of electricity: 17% for tiestall barns and 26% for freestall barns
The good news is that there are technologies that can save energy on most dairy farm operations without sacrifices.
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