Using a night-time automatic milling system to allow home-feed rations to be prepared on low-tariff electricity could cut energy costs by about 40%, according to a new pig sector energy report produced by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
Called Energy Saving Opportunities for Pig Producers, the report looks at several ways for pig farmers to reduce their on-farm use of energy and the price they pay for it.
Revealing that farm feed-mill and feed mixing costs can account for up to 38% of annual farm electricity consumption on Scottish pig units, the report highlights the need for producers to seek the best rates available, with some businesses currently paying a lot more than others.
“In total, around 74% of sow feed (30,500 tonnes per annum) on QMS-assured Scottish pig units is home milled and mixed, along with 70% (73,800 tonnes per annum) of weaning to finishing diets,” stated the report, adding that a producer survey, carried out as part of the report process, revealed a 3.19p/unit difference in the daytime tariff rates paid by producers using more than 100,000 units of electricity per annum.
“The range of prices paid by producers consuming more than 100,000 units was 10.31p/unit to 13.5p/unit,” said Farm Energy Consulting’s Rod McGovern, one of the report’s contributors. “This price spread is worth £3,190 per 100,000 units of consumption.”
The 40% savings potential, meanwhile, attached to night-time milling, was highlighted by Livestock Management Systems’ Jamie Robertson, who also contributed to the QMS project.
“Not all farms had a split tariff giving a cheaper rate at night compared with daytime, but those who have this arrangement are paying about 40% less for their night rate power than for their daytime power,” he said.
QMS pig specialist, Allan Ward, added: “Pig producers operate in a very tight commercial environment, and production is costly due to location and climate. Producers are therefore constantly looking for opportunities to improve efficiency, and this report highlights a number of areas of potential opportunity to lower pig farms’ annual energy bills.”