Farmer saves money with cow bedding and concrete flooring

Dairy farmer Jonny Crickmore has reduced his cow shed heating bills by about £1,800 a year through an innovative concrete floor in his cowshed.

Suffolk-based Crickmore noticed that water pipes buried beneath compost cow bedding were always lukewarm. He had already planned to have new concrete flooring in his large cowshed. He then decided to experiment by burying pipes under sand and a plastic sheet, topped with a 152mm concrete flooring layer. Cow bedding was then put on top of the concrete flooring.

Cold water from a ground source is pumped into the buried pipes, which heats to 35°C without any energy use. This compares to the 7°C temperature of the groundwater he previously used. The water needs to be heated to 75°C to 85°C so that it is suitable for cleaning the milking equipment.

To heat 1,000 litres of this water requires 58kVA of energy compared to 90kVA top heat groundwater. The annual energy saving cost works out at around £1,800. The farmer calculates that the energy saved will pay for the cost of installing the water pipes and the concrete flooring within 17 months.

Not many businesses have access to cow bedding, but water-fed underfloor heating systems that use more conventional heating sources can be installed under concrete flooring. There are technical challenges when installing heating under thick concrete, so a specialist heating engineer and concrete floor installer are required, but a well-planned system will evenly distribute the heat in a room without needing radiators or wall-mounted heaters.

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