Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns unveiled a Web-based energy awareness tool designed to help agricultural producers reduce energy costs related to animal housing. The "Energy Estimator for Animal Housing" evaluates the energy use and costs associated with heating, lighting and ventilating poultry, swine and dairy housing.   

"A good analysis of the use and costs for heating, lighting and ventilating animal housing contributes to a comprehensive picture of how energy is used on the farm or ranch," says Johanns. "This tool can result in significant energy and cost savings for producers if they take the appropriate actions."

Producers with animal feeding operations can save up to $250 million annually nationwide by regularly maintaining their ventilation and heating systems and using more energy-efficient fixtures and equipment. An individual producer may realize up to 50 percent savings in energy use by maintaining their ventilation and heating equipment regularly.

The Web-based "Energy Estimator for Animal Housing" has three components-swine, poultry and dairy-that operate independently. The swine component allows the producer to evaluate heating, lighting and ventilation for three production stages-farrowing (birth to about 15 pounds), nursery (weaning) and finishing (growing)-as well as for the overall animal housing. The user can select one or more swine production stages for analysis. For poultry, the producer provides ventilation, lighting and heating information for the entire broiler house. The dairy component also evaluates lighting as well as milk pumping and cooling options.

Once the required information has been entered, the animal housing energy awareness tool provides an analysis of estimated energy use and costs associated with various energy management options. The analysis also identifies potential energy savings that can result from carrying out certain recommendations for swine, poultry and dairy operations.

Producers should use the "Energy Estimator for Animal Housing" for guidance rather than as a sole source for decision-making on energy matters related to animal housing. This tool evaluates alternatives based on producer input, but does not offer site-specific recommendations. It also does not estimate the cost of implementing recommended practices. USDA recommends that producers take their animal housing energy analysis to their local USDAServiceCenter, Cooperative Extension office, or Rural Electric Cooperative for more field-specific assistance.

You can find more information about USDA's "Energy Estimator for Animal Housing" at http://ahat.sc.egov.usda.gov . If you’re interested in information about the energy estimators for tillage, nitrogen fertilizer and irrigation, go to www.usda.gov/energytools.

Source: USDA