Project Objective: Combine LED lighting, HVAC, solar energy, and building efficiency to make this robotic milking operation energy efficient.
The existing inadequate and inefficient 400 watt metal halide lighting in the free-stall facility was replaced with new 70 watt low bay LED lights, saving energy costs and creating a safer, more effective work environment. In some studies, this lighting has even increased milk production! The exterior high pressure sodium and mercury vapor lights were converted to LED lights. This improvement saves energy costs and also provides a safer and more secure work environment in the farm-yard due to the dramatic increase in light quality. The lighting updates alone save the operation 75% in energy costs over the former system, providing a much needed and appreciated boost to the farm’s bottom line.
Twenty-four hours a day as needed, automatic robotic stations are available to milk the cows. Each “robot” receives its hot water from solar thermal panels mounted on the roof. The excess heat provided by the solar is distributed to the radiant floor which heats the robot room.
Each robot station is heated by radiant flooring and high efficiency condensing modulating boilers integrated with solar thermal technology. The hydronic system provides auxiliary heating when solar thermal is not available for both potable process water heating and space heating needs.
The stainless steel plate cooler uses water to pre-cool the milk. This low-cost cooling method results produces a higher quality product more efficiently with less mechanical stress. Additionally, in winter the cows prefer the warmed water created with this cooling process and will drink more in the cold months which increases milk production.