Farm Profile: Free Stall Dairy
Improving Barn Environment and Reducing Energy Costs

Since arriving from the Netherlands in 1996, Henk and Ary Grootendorst have built an impressive dairy farm operation by paying careful attention to the barn environment for their cows and to the purchasing of energy-efficient equipment.

"We installed our variable frequency drive vacuum pump 10 years ago when we built our first barn. Since we have to run it at only 30% of its full capacity, there are definite energy savings with the additional benefit of a longer operational life for the pump," comments Henk Grootendorst.

"The best part of all is that we have not had to fix the pump over the 10 years."

In just 10 years, Henk and Ary Grootendorst have built an impressive dairy farm, always paying attention to the barn environment and energy-saving equipment.

Figure 1. In just 10 years, Henk and Ary Grootendorst have built an impressive dairy farm, always paying attention to the barn environment and energy-saving equipment.

For their water system, they have installed a high-efficiency water heater. Warm water from the milk precooler and milk heat reclaimer is stored in several water storage tanks, which feed preheated water to the water heater. The warm water also goes to the cattle for drinking water, preheats the milk parlour floor, and is used in the warm water sanitation cycles and other cleaning activities.

Since the pump produces approximately 10,000 litres per day of warm water, any extra water is sent to the reservoir to be used for other purposes on the farm.

Shown here are (A) the variable frequency drive, (B) the power filter on the variable frequency drive and (C) the variable frequency drive vacuum pump.

Figure 2. Shown here are (A) the variable frequency drive, (B) the power filter on the variable frequency drive and (C) the variable frequency drive vacuum pump.

Pictured here are (A) the high-efficiency water heater and (B) water storage tanks.

Figure 3. Pictured here are (A) the high-efficiency water heater and (B) water storage tanks.

Circulation fans are commonly used to provide additional air fl ow and some cooling effect. Two years ago, Henk and Ary decided to install high-volume low-velocity (HVLV) circulation fans in all the barns and in the milking parlour. These fans are large ceiling fans on temperature control. They operate on variable frequency drives that vary the speed of the fan based on room temperature. HVLV fans are very energy-efficient, and operating them at variable speed with a frequency drive makes them even more efficient.

"The results from the new fans have been excellent," comments Henk.

"We now have much better air circulation in the barns, which provides a consistent air quality and temperature throughout the barns."

On the ceiling of the milking parlour are 5 lamp 4 foot T-8 fluorescent lighting fixtures and a high volume, low velocity circulation fan.

Figure 4. On the ceiling of the milking parlour are 5 lamp 4 foot T-8 fluorescent lighting fixtures and a high volume, low velocity circulation fan.

The University of Guelph recently conducted a study comparing the old horizontal circulating fans and the new HVLV fans in the Grootendorst barns. The new fans provided 100% more airflow (measured in cubic feet per minute) and gained a 50% energy savings equating to roughly $400. In addition to these benefits, the controlled environment allowed for consistent milk production from the cows during the hottest months of the summer.

The only problem they discovered with the fans was that initially the frequency drives interfered with the operation of the cow ID tags, so they used shielded, sealed cable and were careful not to cross the wires when installing these fans. Tricks like these have helped ensure quality power.

All of the barns on the Grootendorst farm have automatic side wall panels which work in conjunction with the HVLV fans and temperature control unit to provide a naturally ventilated, temperature-controlled environment.

Cows need an excellent barn environment and sensitive care to be good milk producers, so Henk and Ary chose to spend a little extra money to purchase HVLV fans, automatic side walls and a temperature control unit when they built their new dry cow barn. The dry cow stage is very important in the dairy farm cycle, as cows need to rejuvenate before becoming efficient milk producers again.

Special attention was also paid to the construction of the milk parlour. The parlour floor is heated with warm water from the milk precooler and heat reclaimer for worker comfort. Good lighting is essential in this area, so the Grootendorsts installed 5 lamp 4 foot T-8 fluorescent fixtures instead of the metal halide fixtures used in the animal areas. The use of HVLV fans helps keep the cows comfortable.

High-volume low-velocity ceiling fans and a metal halide lighting system are used in the animal areas.

Figure 5. High-volume low-velocity ceiling fans and a metal halide lighting system are used in the animal areas.

Because Henk considers the comfort of the cows to be an important aspect of dairy farming, he and Ary have implemented systems, equipment and processes to ensure a barn environment with consistent air quality and temperature. They also play music around the clock to keep their cows happy and stimulated.

When the Grootendorsts purchase new equipment, they research the marketplace carefully. They want to ensure that they are purchasing equipment that will provide maximum energy conservation and cost-efficiency.

 


For more information:
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Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 01 April 2007
Last Reviewed: 18 August 2009