I’ve written earlier blogs on the cost of propane this winter and the estimated impact on production costs, especially for contract growers with fixed payment contracts. This weekend I had a question from a veterinarian and finishing manager for a production system regarding how much propane pilot lights use on furnaces.
This morning I had heard back from one of the equipment suppliers to the livestock industry. Their estimate is that a pilot light on propane fired brooders used in poultry housing is 0.41 gal/light/day. Another supplier suggests that pilot lights consume 1200 BTU of propane per hour or 28,800 BTU/day. Propane contains 92,000 BTU/gal so this estimate is 0.31 gal/light/day.
Either way we look at it, pilot lights add to the fuel expense in pork production. If I take an average of the estimates at 0.35 gal/light/day, and a producer leaves the pilot lights lit all year in furnaces installed in production facilities, this amounts to 128 gal of propane per year per furnace. At $2 per gallon, this is $256 per year in propane just to keep the pilot light going. Most wean-finish facilities have 2-3 furnaces per 1000-1200 pig spaces. At 3 furnaces per 1200 pig spaces, this becomes $0.64/pig space just to keep pilot lights going.
Wow – an real eye opener for hidden costs in pork production. Once again, attention to the little details can return big dividends.