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by Bob Ellis
Money is tight on a lot of Scottish Dairy Farms, with profitability a major concern. There seems to be no one big thing which will magically turn dairy farming into a generator of huge wealth – or for that matter a reasonable profit. It would appear that in order to be a successful dairy farmer the main thing is attention to the detail. Whether it's mastitis prevention, milking machine cleaning or barn maintenance, all the little things add up to make money from dairy farming.
One of the not so little things is cost and use of electricity. Milking twice a day and cooling the milk uses a lot of power. Any way of reducing the usage of electricity must help towards a “profit”
In recent years much development has taken place in milking and cooling equipment. The developments of robot milkers and management systems have been in the news and are wide topics of discussion. Some other major developments have some what missed the attention they deserve.
Cooling milk is one of the biggest uses of electricity on a modern dairy farm and the energy used to reduce the temperature is blown off by the refrigeration condensing unit fan. OK to warm yourself at five o'clock on a cold and frosty winter morning but not much help to the bank balance.
Heat recovery units have been around for a long time but were in the past a haphazard configuration of copper coils, thermometers and valves. Some also generated large bills when the coils punctured and water entered the refrigeration circuit. Much development has taken place during the intervening years and DeLaval with its links to heavy industry (where heat recovery is of major importance) was well placed to transfer the technology from industry to the dairy farm and milk cooling.
The DeLaval system places a highly efficient heat exchanger in the hot gas return line between the milk tank and the condensing unit. This instantly transfers the heat from the gas to the water going to an insulated holding vessel. From the holding vessel the warm water is piped to the dairy water heaters where its 50-60 degrees greatly reduces the cost of heating water from cold for plant and tank washing.
Sustainable Dairy Farming is high on the agenda and not just at DeLaval. Government grants are being offered all over the UK and farmers realize that investing in environmentally friendly equipment is less of an investment than expected, on top of that the pay back or return on investment for a heat recovery system is quick too on average a little over 2 years.
So rather than warming your hands on the energy escaping from the bulk tank fan warm them on your bank balance instead!