Posts Tagged: dairy
Innovative cooling technologies tested on dairy cows at UC Davis are addressing the long-standing challenge of keeping dairy cows cool in heat-stressed California.
Standard livestock cooling methods, such as fans and sprinkling cows with water, require significant amounts of electricity and water. The new technologies, being tested at UC Davis by the Western Cooling Efficiency Center and the Department of Animal Science, are designed to reduce water by up to 86 percent and electricity by up to 38 percent over conventional methods.
Milk production and heat stress
Milk is the most valued agricultural commodity in California, with $9.4 billion in retail sales in 2014. Roughly one in every five dairy cows in the nation lives in California. In addition to disturbing the cow, heat stress is a major cause of diminished milk production in dairy cows, with annual losses directly related to heat stress exceeding $800 million.
“The process of rumination, where cows ferment their food, produces a lot of heat, as does milk production itself,” said Cassandra Tucker, a professor in the Department of Animal Science who focuses on dairy cattle welfare. “When the outside temperatures also rise, it's a challenge for the animal in how she's going to try to keep cool. This project is trying to reduce the energy and water use associated with that to help both the cows and the dairy producers.”
How it works
The technologies involve two approaches. The first is conduction cooling, where the bedding area is cooled using heat exchange mats placed where cows lie down. To reduce energy consumption, water flowing through the mats is cooled through a novel evaporative chiller called a Sub-Wet Bulb Evaporative Chiller.
The second approach is targeted convection cooling, which uses fabric ducting to direct cool air onto the cows while they lie down and when they eat. The air is cooled using a high-efficiency direct evaporative cooler.
"This is an exciting research opportunity for UC Davis to combine our expertise in engineering with our expertise in animal science,” said Theresa Pistochini, senior engineer at the Western Cooling Efficiency Center. “There is significant potential to apply existing technologies in a novel way to reduce both energy and water used to cool dairy cows. Through this project we aim to design, test and demonstrate an efficient alternative.”
The project is part of a four-year, $1 million grant from the California Energy Commission to help improve water and energy efficiency in California's dairy industry. The data being collected now will help determine which technology the team should use to pilot at a commercial dairy in a future phase of the project.
For more information, contact:
Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-752-7704, 530-750-9195 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Fortunato, UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center, 530-752-0280, 916-412-3022, email@example.com
Mike Payne, dairy outreach coordinator at the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security and director of the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP).
Payne says that one estimate places lost revenue due to the drought from farming and related businesses in California as high as $5 billion. If there is little relief from Mother Nature in the 2014-15 rainfall season, the prospect of devastating effects to California's dairy industry is immeasurable. Skyrocketing feed costs and ultimately more California dairy producers going out of business will likely lead to higher retail prices for dairy products at the supermarket. A dwindling dairy industry will result in the loss of jobs in rural communities as well as to the dairy processing industry in the state.
The CDQAP is a voluntary partnership between dairy producers, government agencies and academia to promote the health of consumers, the health of the environment and the health and welfare of dairy animals, is ramping up drought-related outreach, which will include workshops, assistance application sessions and online resources. The goal of its webpage is to sift through the surge of drought-related announcements and information, bringing back that which is relevant to California dairy producers. Information will continue to develop through the year, as will the outreach to dairy producers struggling with critically limited water resources.
Stay informed of current drought meetings, deadlines for drought assistance programs, CDFA and USDA announcements, and publications such as the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory's UC Whitepaper on Drought-Related Feed Toxicity on the CDQAP website.
Check back at WIFSS Outreach for updates on the drought crisis and other outreach and extension-related projects underway by WIFSS research and scientific staff.
California’s scenic Marin County is home to two thriving industries that were once in conflict – oyster farming and dairy farming.
In order to grow healthy and marketable oysters, the farmers depended on clean water in Tomales Bay. But regulations meant to protect the bay from cattle runoff were so strict that dairy farmers feared they could no longer stay in business.
Now, with help from David Lewis, director of UC Cooperative Extension in Marin County, these two communities have found creative solutions that allow both kinds of farmers to share this beautiful and fertile region. Find out how in a four-minute report by Kristen Simoes on UCTV Prime Cuts, “Cooperation Trumps Conflict in Tomales Bay.”
The $20 million, 34,000-square-foot teaching-and-research complex is the first winery, brewery or food-processing facility expected to earn LEED Platinum certification, the highest environmental rating awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. It is intended to become self-sustainable in energy and water use.
Neal Van Alfen, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis, said, "It will serve as a model for industries throughout the nation that are also committed both to environmental excellence and production efficiency."
The complex houses a brewery, general foods-processing plant, milk-processing laboratory, and a teaching-and-research winery which will serve as a test bed for production processes that conserve water, energy, and other resources. The complex is adjacent to a 12-acre teaching-and-research vineyard.
Its environmentally friendly features include on-site solar power generation, a large-capacity system for capturing rainwater and conserving processing water, and many other features. The facility is expected to be carbon zero in carbon emissions.