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New Producer Added to LED Pilot Project

March 29, 2012

Lakewood Turkeys, Inc near Eden Valley, MN

Lakewood Turkeys, Inc. near Eden Valley, MN became the fifth producer (ninth barn) in our LED Pilot Project this month. Owner Mike Langmo has been growing turkeys for over 20 years at this particular property, which sits on the edge of a pleasing stand of trees that help block the wind and add to the view. His operation currently has two finishing barns and one brooder barn. He typically produces about 19,000 birds in each of the finishing barns – more with the brooders.

Mike had in fact already installed some of Once Innovations’ Agrishift LED bulbs in one of the finishing barns, independently of the pilot project, when he got in touch with The Minnesota Project. (He is still working on getting a rebate from his utility for the lights.) The other finishing barn is currently lit by high pressure sodium bulbs, which are less energy efficient.

Inside the finishing barn at Lakewood TurkeysPreviously the upgraded barn had used compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). Now, the barn’s middle row has six LEDs that are used as a “nightlight” and each side of the barn also has a row of 26 LEDs that are switched on and off with an automated timer according to a specified schedule to boost turkey growth. Additional light is added with the use of pneumatic shades on the sides and along the ridge of the roof, which allow in natural light when conditions permit (shown open in the photo).

Even after the switch from CFLs to LEDs, though, Mike was feeling that the barn was too dimly lit. After exploring the options, he decided that increasing the number of LED lights in the barn might be a better choice than switching back to another form of lighting, allowing him to increase overall light – and possibly production – while keeping costs low.

To determine initial light levels in the barn before additional fixtures were added, Mike Ostaffe of Once Innovations and Jake Fischer of The Minnesota Project met with Mike Langmo and took measurements. They found an average of 1 foot candle in the area between lamps and 1.8 foot candles directly beneath the lamps. Because poultry see a broader spectrum of light than do humans, and because Once Innovations’ Agrishift lamps are specifically designed for poultry installations (unlike most commercially available CFLs), a light value of approximately 30% can be added to the measurements to account for the way that turkeys see the light.

A hen looks on curiously at Lakewood Turkeys. She seems to like the LED lights.In the weeks ahead, the additional fixtures will be installed. With a near-doubling of the lights in the barn and staggering the fixtures to better fill in the darker spaces between, we expect that overall light levels in this one of Lakewood Turkey’s finishing barns will significantly improve. And after the installation, we will continue to monitor light levels, energy use and performance data.

Already Mike has noticed appreciable energy savings. Yet given that this is the first flock he has run through the upgraded barn, he hesitates to attribute any production improvements specifically to the LED lights. He has had a smaller loss rate of birds in that barn; though whether or not it’s related to the lighting only time will tell. And that’s the purpose of this pilot project: to test the energy efficiency, performance and durability of LED lighting in livestock facilities.

Funds for the LED Pilot Project come from the Office of Energy Security’s Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) Grant Program. Minnesota is the nation’s largest producer of turkeys and because of this the industry was specifically targeted in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to improve its energy efficiency and pursue alternative options to the incandescent and florescent lights currently used in turkey facilities. With the results of this study, we hope to illustrate the potential for LED lighting in farms across Minnesota and to inform future energy efficiency decision-making throughout the state.

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