Energy Efficiency Advice for Livestock Farmers

Forage production and waste management comprise the greatest sources of energy use in livestock farming.

Feed utilisation and sourcing

Forage production and waste management comprise the greatest sources of energy use in livestock farming.

If you mill your feed on the farm, use a disc rather than roller mill as this is considerably more efficient. Disc mills are newer, more efficient technology now available in the UK. Also check that moisture levels are at the right level (17-18%) as this reduces unnecessary drying.

Forage ensiling waste can be as much as 10%, reduce this as much as possible by ensuring appropriate storage conditions.

Nutrient management planning

For intensive operations, dirty water can be applied using low rate irrigation rather tractor, to save 60% of the energy costs. Divert all clean water from the slurry store in order to minimise slurry volumes and therefore slurry handling involving energy intensive machinery.

Ensure that you take account of nutrients in farm yard manure before applying bagged fertiliser which will reduce the energy needed to apply fertiliser and reduce losses to the farm bottom line and the environment.

Machinery and fuel use

  • Ensure all vehicle tyres are kept at the correct pressure to save diesel
  • Shut off engines when not in use rather than idling.
  • Plan travel so as to combine jobs and minimise vehicle movements wherever possible.
  • Install a fuel meter on the farm diesel tank to monitor fuel usage
  • Service equipment regularly
  • Consider soft start technology for electric motors.


Use low energy or sodium lighting, especially in flood lighting. Keep all lighting covers and fittings clean and well maintained. Install timer switches and daylight / occupancy sensors in key lighting circuits, and in non key circuits ensure that lights and other equipment is switched off when not in use.

Building maintenance

Improve building airflow to maximise natural ventilation and minimise drafts.

Why not read about what one upland sheep farmer has been up to?

New sheep housing has provided all-round benefits in efficiency, welfare and for the environment on a West Cumbrian upland unit.