EXTRA – LEDs might boost milk production

Early indications are that LEDs might lead to increased milk production.

Experts are urging caution. But it is a development that electric cooperatives need to be aware of, and there’s an event coming up that will be of interest to many.

NRECA’s Cooperative Research Network has been working with Oklahoma State University researchers and Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, testing LED lights in a dairy barn.

Ten 250-watt metal-halide luminaires were replaced with 10 custom-engineered LED high-bay fixtures, back in 2010.

The early findings are that the 100 cows on the LED side of the barn produced 6 percent more milk than the cows left under the old lighting.

“Preliminary results show a very positive increase in the milk production, which is fascinating,” said Brian Sloboda, CRN senior program manager.

“We have some theories about why it happened, but we can’t say for sure why it happened,” Sloboda cautioned. Additional research will be needed before anyone can say for certain that a simple lighting change led to cows giving more milk.

What’s not in dispute is the 55 percent reduction in energy use.

“When you look at combining the energy-efficiency savings, and if those production gains turn out to be true, you’re looking at a payback period for those lamps of well under one year, which is phenomenal,” Sloboda told ECT.coop. “Generally with LEDs you’re looking at over a three-year, often an eight or nine-year, payback period.”

“That could really be a huge benefit to the dairy producers in this country that are under very intense environmental constraints these days with their waste disposal,” Sloboda added. “If we can find a new way for them to pretty easily increase their income, it will help them at the end of the day.”

Source – ECT.COOP, a publication of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association