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Energy efficiency advice for pig farms

Heating followed by ventilation, feed production and slurry storage and lighting comprise the largest sources of energy use.

General pointers

Heating, followed by ventilation, feed production and slurry storage and lighting comprise the largest sources of energy use. Feed also contains a large amount of embodied energy as with fertiliser.

Adequate heating controls, the correct positioning of sensors and monitors and adequate maintenance and cleaning offer opportunities for energy saving and efficiencies in pig production. For example, outlet fans can be made up to 15% more efficient by adding cones.

Enclosing creeps will enable more accurate temperature control in each one, prevent heat loss and reduce heating demands.

Sufficient insulation and preventing draughts offer the potential to halve the energy consumed per pig during the production process. Newer materials offer greater energy savings as older insulation can wear out over time.

Fitting variable speed pumps to wet feed equipment which don't undergo uniform use or demand can save at least 30% in costs.

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Energy use can be minimised and costs reduced through sensible selection of system components, wise use of insulation and attention to design and operation of control systems. If you are making any alterations to improve energy efficiency, it is worth making sure that full account is taken of environmental requirements and animal welfare.

Taking stock of the current situation

  • Compare your performance with industry benchmarks (or your own data from previous years)
  • Assess current energy use
  • Identify energy efficiency measures that will work with your business
  • Establish an “energy action plan”

High priority / low cost measures

Implement these first as they require little or no expenditure. These often give the best rewards as savings can be made quickly and for little expenditure or effort.

Monitor energy use

  • The basis of good energy management
  • Regular meter readings, don’t just rely on utility bills

Carry out maintenance and repairs

  • An essential part of reducing wasted energy

Check the accuracy of controls

  • Check temperature sensors

Use information from control systems

  • Link ventilation and temperature settings to energy data to see how the system is performing

Medium and long term actions

Improve building insulation

  • Current recommendations are for an insulation level of better than 0.4W/m²/˚C (60 mm of polyurethane)
  • Best results can be achieved using composite panels containing solid polyurethane insulation.

Use enclosed creeps

  • Boxed creeps will reduce heat losses and provide a controllable environment for piglets, and better regulation of the thermal environment.

Improve controls

  • Good controls are a pre-requisite for maintaining the right temperature in buildings and minimising the use of energy.
  • If heating is used in building, it is critical that minimum winter ventilation rate is controlled accurately.

Use efficient fans and ducts

  • Fans can vary significantly in efficiency
  • Consider the lifetime cost when buying fans
  • Fan efficiency generally increases with impeller diameter
  • Belt driven fans are generally more efficient than fans with direct drives
  • Fitting cones to outlets fans will increase efficiency by 10-15%

Efficient lighting

  • Prolonged periods of use mean that fluorescent lighting will be the most efficient solution in most cases.
  • High level lighting and strip fluorescent lamps with T8 tubes and electronic control gear will give the best energy efficiency
  • For low level lighting, a small number of compact fluorescent lamps are a good solution.

Use high efficiency motors and variable speed drives on feed and waste handling systems

  • High efficiency motors cost no more than standard motors and should be considered when upgrading motors.
  • With wet feeding and slurry pumping systems, choose pumps that give the best flow to energy characteristics.
  • Consider the use of variable speed drives where appropriate. Savings of between 30-50% can be expected in pump running costs when using VSDs.

Energy saving options for farrowing heating

  • Careful control of heater output
  • Clean heaters and ensure they fit well into creep lids
  • Seal boxed creeps and fit pophole curtains
  • Install boxed creeps
  • Install thermostatic controls ideally with temperature profiling
  • Choose higher efficiency heating type

Weaning accommodation ideas

  • Closer setting of controls
  • Seal buildings to stop draughts
  • Clean fans and ducting regularly
  • Install compact fluorescent lighting or high efficiency tubular fluorescent lighting
  • Reconfigure ventilation to give better control of minimum level
  • Update heating and ventilation controls
  • Re-insulate buildings

Finishing accommodation

  • Make sure controls are properly calibrated and set to the correct temperature
  • Clean fans and ducting regularly
  • Install compact fluorescent lighting or high efficiency tubular fluorescent lighting
  • Improve the design of inlets and outlets to provide smoother air passage and lower air speeds
  • Update ventilation controls
  • Update ventilation to high efficiency low loss system
  • Re-insulate buildings to reduce solar gain

Source: The Carbon Trust: Energy Use in Pig Farming