In general, dairy farm use between 800 and 1,200 kWh/cow-yr of electricity. In one study, however, the range was from 424 to 1,736 kWh/cow-year-and both of these were in freestall operations.
Data from the Center for Dairy Profitability indicates that utility costs on the average dairy farm account for less than 2% of milk production costs on all sizes of farms, with utility costs per cow decreasing as farm size increased. A University of Wisconsin study indicated that 46% of the electrical use was for milk harvesting (vacuum pump, milk cooling and water heating), another 46% was used for lighting and ventilation and the remaining 6% was for feeding, manure handling and other miscellaneous uses. Milk cooling accounted for the largest block of electrical usage at 25% with lighting surprisingly being the second largest user of electricity: 17% for tiestall barns and 26% for freestall barns.
The good news is that there are technologies that can save energy on most dairy farm operations without sacrifices. Check out this web page and see where you might save energy, and $$$.
Reprinted with permission from Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, www.pdpw.org