We all know that happy cows come from Wisconsin despite what California folks say. University of Wisconsin researchers are close to making The Dairyland State’s cows even happier! Brian Forrest, owner of Maple Ridge Dairy in Stratford, and the farm’s Project/Building Maintenance Manager, Jason Nemec, know their cows are the happiest around.
What’s their secret?
Investing in energy-efficient upgrades and utilizing Focus on Energy Agribusiness incentives. Maple Ridge Dairy began working with Focus on Energy in 2014, completing 30 energy-efficient projects and always looking for more.
“Whenever Kevin (Focus on Energy Advisor) would approach us with an opportunity and dial in to what we could save for a project, it gets the blood pumping,” Maple Ridge Dairy Owner Brian Forrest said. “There’s just not a lot of downside to this.”
Forrest and Nemec turned to their trusted Focus on Energy Advisor, Kevin Weiler, when they wanted to upgrade one of the dairy barns. The 2021 project ensures their 1,800 cows are comfortable while cutting $8,000 a month from their energy bills. Maple Ridge saved 4.5 million kWh which could power 402 homes every year.
“Recently, we got a plate cooler where we got another 8 degrees out of our milk,” Forrest said. “That’s just a homerun, a win-win. The cows like to drink warmer water and we like to drink cooler milk.”
Focus on Energy Trade Ally and 2021 Energy Efficiency Excellence Award Winner Anderson Electric always works closely with Maple Ridge Dairy. Anderson Electric recently installed high efficiency exhaust and circulation fans with variable frequency drives (VFDs). Those products ensured the cows were cool and comfortable…even during the hottest days of the summer. Cows tend to produce less milk if they’re too hot. Unhappy cows can’t focus on milk! With the circulation fans blowing cool, refreshing air around the barn, milk production did not decrease AT ALL this past summer.
“Cows are more productive if they’re cooler and that’s not always easy to do when it’s 80, 90 degrees and real feel of 100 degrees,” Forrest said. “But with the tunnel ventilation and efficient fans that have software that controls and optimizes, we aren’t wasting energy. When it’s cooler, we aren’t running fans fast.”
Making sure his cows in the other barn didn’t get jealous, this past spring, Forrest upgraded that barn with the same energy-efficient products. He says all the projects he works on with Focus on Energy will help him keep his farm open for the next 40, 50, 60 years.
“There’s about a million cows in Wisconsin and there’s families working together on more efficient farms,” Forrest said. “Once again, we are lowering our carbon footprint, we are doing more with less, and with the help of Focus, we are doing that!”