Linking Livestock and Renewable Energy

How are livestock linked to renewable energy?

Finding ways to manage and use manure that provides practical benefits to farmers while lessening the impacts to water, air, and soil is good for farmers and good for the environment. The production of renewable energy using manure is a good example of such a win-win Best Management Practice. Using manure as a renewable energy source can reduce energy costs, and in the case of Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS), provides a new source of revenue for dairy farms.

Anaerobic digesters

Digesters employ microorganisms that break down volatile organic compounds present in manure and produce biogas (methane). The methane can be burned to generate electricity. CVPS, a Vermont public utility company, has developed a program to sell energy produced by on-farm digesters as electricity to customers. This program, known as Cow Power, pays farmers for the energy they produce and reduces the environmental impacts of manure storage and spreading. Additional benefits of using bio-digesters:

  • Digested solids can be separated and used for bedding;

  • Manure odor is reduced;

  • Burning methane reduces the release of methane in the atmosphere.

Turkey litter as an alternative brooding fuel

Using turkey litter as a brooding fuel solves several dilemmas for producers, and reduces costs. Legacy phosphorous in Pennsylvania requires that turkey litter be hauled off farm, an expensive activity. Winter heating of turkey houses uses large amounts of propane, which is also expensive. By using a bio-fuel boiler, turkey litter can be substituted for propane, eliminating the need to haul manure and purchase propane. This means less phosphorous in soils and a more profitable operation. Additional benefits of using turkey litter for brooding:

  • Low humidity, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide levels in turkey houses


Contact Information

Paul Patterson
  • Professor of Poultry Science
Phone: 814-865-3414