Why would a poultry producer attend the Powering Michigan Agriculture Conference?

For one turkey farm, making the energy conservation investment payed off in reduced energy expenses, improved animal welfare, increased market weight, lowered brooder mortality rate and safer working conditions for employees.

On average, energy accounts for 34 percent of a farm’s total expense. Michigan poultry producers will have the opportunity to learn how to reduce energy consumption and expenses at the Powering Michigan Agriculture Conference on March 9 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. Some of the topics discussed with include:

  • Lighting is one of the simplest, yet most cost effective ways to reduce energy expenses. Jon Althouse, MSU Biosystems Engineering, will talk about choosing the right type of lighting for the right type of application on your farm as a way to reduce energy usage.
  • One way to save money on energy is to pay less for it. Sanju Guinn with Consumers Energy will explain how an energy rate analysis can be used to reduce expenses.
  • An energy audit is a study of energy usage conducted for the purpose of saving energy and money. Dan Schrauben, a certified agricultural auditor, will provide tips on preparing for a Type 2 agricultural energy audit.
  • An energy audit is the gateway to accessing funding to implement the practices recommended by the audit. Two complete conference tracks are devoted to providing farmers with information on how to access rebates from utilities and grants and low interest loans from USDA.

The complete conference schedule can be found on the Michigan State University Extension Events page. The conference will start at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. Registration is $40 per person or $75 for two people from the same farm. The registration fee gives attendees access to vendors, speakers, educational material and includes lunch. To attend, register online by March 5.

GDW Turkey Farms in Ottawa County has greatly benefitted from implementing energy efficiency measures that will be discussed in the conference. In 2013 a certified Type 2 agricultural energy audit was conducted and the recommendations included:

  • Lighting improvements
  • Upgrading to infrared tube heaters
  • Adding insulation
  • Installing insulated doors
  • Planting a windbreak

The farm has implemented many of the audit recommendations and in 2014 the farm replaced 100 T-12 lights in a brooder house with LED lights for $21,000 and received a $4,900 rebate from Consumers Energy to offset the bulb replacement costs. This switch resulted in an annual energy savings of $4,000 and $2,000 in maintenance costs. The payback period for this project was 2.7 years.

In addition to the cost savings, the switch resulted in:

  • Improved animal welfare (cleaner birds, less cannibalism, calmer dispositions)
  • Increased weight of the turkeys leaving the brooder
  • Decreased mortality rates
  • Improved employee working conditions

Implementing energy efficiency measures in the finishing barns has resulted in better litter conditions, lower condemnations on birds shipped to slaughter and increased bird comfort. Labor and bulb costs were also reduced due to less frequent bulb replacement.

Registration and vendor questions can be directed to Betsy Braid at 517-884-7081 or braidbet@msu.edu

All other questions can be directed to Charles Gould at 616-994-4547 or gouldm@msu.edu.

Additional article in this series:

2017 Powering Michigan Agriculture Conference: Making the energy conservation investment

Why would a dairy farmer attend the Powering Michigan Agriculture Conference?

Two ways farms can save money on energy: Use less and pay less

Choosing the right small wind electric or solor photovoltaic system for your farm

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