Optimized Controls for Cooling California Dairy Cows

RESEARCHER: Vinod Narayanan, UC Davis

CO-FUNDER: California Energy Commission (CEC) (Solicitation GFO-20-309) 

TIMELINE: July 2021 – March 2025

BACKGROUND: Existing cow cooling systems use a considerable amount of energy and water, which is costly to farmers and the environment. The UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center (WCEC) has developed an optimized controller that adjusts fan speeds and sprayer cycles to maintain the necessary cooling for dairy cows while minimizing electricity and water use. Initial testing at a commercial dairy in Tulare County showed reduced electricity use of approximately 30% while maintaining cow cooling and health.

OBJECTIVE: To save electricity and water though the development of a novel control algorithm for the fans and sprayers used for cow cooling on commercial California dairies.

INDUSTRY BENEFIT: This proposal is timely for the industry as it provides novel opportunities to improve animal well-being, save on energy costs, and reduce water usage. Relatively low-cost innovations, such as this, which can address multiple industry concerns must continually be explored by dairy producers to help meet the industry’s sustainability targets.