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Project demonstrates energy efficiency of LED lighting in poultry facilities


Poultry production facilities have a large presence in rural Minnesota and are substantial customers for many rural electric cooperatives. Notably, Minnesota is the number one turkey producing state in the country and, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), raised approximately 46 million turkeys in 2012. The USDA also reports that the state raised an additional 45.5 million broiler chickens as well as produced 2.83 billion eggs from approximately 10.4 million hens in 2012. Figures 1 and 2 below indicate the distribution of turkey and chicken production, respectively.

Minnesota Turkey Production map Minnesota Chicken Production Map
Figure 1: Distribution and Density of Turkey Production
(Source: ESRI, a geographic information services company)
Figure 2: Chicken Broiler Production Distribution
(Source: National Agricultureal Statistics Service, 2007)

Lighting is a major energy use of the poultry industry, and many producers keep their lamps on for the majority of the day to encourage bird feeding and growth. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires the implementation of high performing lamp technologies across all industries as older lamp technologies phase out of existence. Consequently, Minnesota’s poultry producers will require alternatives to incandescent lamps to maintain safe and productive growing conditions in their facilities. Though compact florescent lamps (CFLs) present a significant energy savings improvement over incandescent lamps, questions remain about CFL durability in harsh barn conditions. Further, some industry stakeholders have expressed hesitation about installing CFL lamps in poultry production facilities, because of difficulties with CFL lamp dimming or flickering and the potential for the release of mercury into bird feeding areas due to broken lamps.

LED technology presents a viable alternative to incandescent lamps, but the upfront cost of converting to an LED lamp system can be relatively high. Producers have been reluctant to make such substantial investments to their production systems until the LED and agricultural industries can demonstrate that LED technology does not harm bird production and is dependable, cost-effective, and commercially replicable. The objective of this CARD grant, awarded to The Minnesota Project, was to assess potential energy savings, cost-effectiveness, and practical performance of LED fixtures in Minnesota’s poultry facilities.

The Minnesota Project partnered with ONCE Innovations, an LED lamp manufacturer located in Plymouth, Minn., to retrofit lighting systems in 23 poultry barns. The pre-retrofit lighting systems included incandescent, CFL, high pressure sodium, and halogen fixtures, as well as combinations of these fixtures. Post-retrofit lighting systems mostly consisted entirely of LED fixtures; however, a few barns had post-retrofit lighting systems consisting of a combination of LED fixtures and CFL or high pressure sodium fixtures.

Overall, this project determined that poultry-specific LED lamps offer significant energy savings opportunities for electric utilities and poultry producers, as well as attractive paybacks when replacing incandescent and/or high-pressure sodium lamps. Furthermore, participating producers demonstrated that LED lamp technology did not impair bird production. With a quick net average payback of 2.6 years and net median payback of 1.7 years, poultry producers have good reason to closely examine the cost-effectiveness of implementing LED lamp technology (see Table 1).  Nonetheless, Conservation Improvement Program administrators and electric utility staff should take care in communicating, designing, and implementing LED lamp rebates in poultry barns. No two barns are identical and one-to-one lamp exchanges are often not likely to provide proper and even light levels. When planning LED retrofits, electric utility personnel would be served well by communicating regularly with poultry producers in order to understand flock rotations, the timing of barn upgrades, and other considerations of the poultry industry.

Producer No. of Barns Barn Type Lighting Changeout Energy Saved Annually (kWh) Money Saved Annually1 Total Project Costs2 Simple Payback (years)3
R & L Turkeys 1 Turkey Finish Incan to LED 27,796 $2,999 $2,660 0.9
LSI/WP Westbrook 1 Turkey Brood HPS/Incan to HPS/LED 15,293 $1,650 $1,680 1
LSI/WP Diamond 1 Turkey Brood HPS/Incan to HPS/LED 29,105 $3,140 $4,690 1.5
Evelo Farms 1 Turkey Brood Incan to LED 13,798 $1,489 $2,275 1.5
LSI/WP Old East Fransen 1 Turkey Brood Incan to LED 13,346 $1,440 $2,100 1.5
LSI/WP Highland 1 Egg-laying HPS to LED 54,659 $5,898 $9,240 1.6
Langmo Farms 3 Turkey Finish Incan to LED 36,581 $3,947 $6,575 1.7
WP Highway 40 West 1 Egg-laying HPS to LED 48,185 $5,199 $9,240 1.8
P & J Farms 1 Turkey Brood Halogen to LED4 24,426 $2,636 $4,650 1.8
LSI/WP New West Fransen 1 Turkey Brood Halogen to LED4 9,003 $971 $2,100 2.2
Zimmerman Farms 4 Turkey Finish HPS/Incan to LED 41,198 $4,445 $11,900 2.7
Buysse Farm 1 Turkey Brood CFL to LED/CFL 3,754 $405 $2,100 5.2
Flying C Farms 2 Turkey Finish HPS to LED 27,232 $2,938 $16,050 5.5
Galaxy Farms 1 Turkey Brood CFL to LED 2,156 $233 $1,750 7.5
Lakewood Turkey 1 Turkey Finish CFL to LED 2,388 $258 $4,705 N/A
Gorans Bros. Turkey 1 Turkey Finish CFL to LED 1,441 $155 $2,065 N/A
Sparboe Egg Farm 1 Egg-laying CFL to LED 1,603 $173 $11,200 N/A

1Assumes $0.1079/kWh electric rate.
2 Includes materials and labor. Assumes all fixtures cost $35 each.
3 When payback exceeded the life of LED lighting using the producer's annual hours of lighting operation, then no payback was possible.
4Newly constructed barn; not a retrofit. Values were calculated by assuming lighting changed from halogen to LED.

Table 1. Savings and paybacks for LED lamp retrofits in poultry barns

Details of the program implementation process are given in the final report, “LEDs: Energy Savings and Replicability in MN Livestock Facilities” (pdf), available on the Commerce website. For more information on this CARD project, contact Laura Silver or CARD grant program administrator Mary Sue Lobenstein with any questions concerning this project.

The Minnesota Project has additional resources for energy efficiency opportunities on farms on their website, including information about other projects with the Minnesota Department of Commerce on energy efficiency in the dairy industry and throughout the agricultural sector. The Minnesota Project was named as a finalist this year for an Environmental Initiative Award in the Energy and Climate category for this project and is a finalist in the Food Stewardship category for their Fruits of the City program as well.