Looking to Trim Propane Costs, Va. Poultry Farmers Talk Co-op

You guys keeping warm? Chickens huddling together in Virginia. (image: intheburg via flickr.com)

Since we entered the propane game last year, we’ve learned a few truths about the gas: People love the Hank Hill zingers (“propane and propane accessories”). If you want some cheap retail LPG, move to Nebraska. And chicken farmers like to burn propane to keep the poultry warm.

Propane heat in the chickenhouse has the same advantages of propane heat in your house: the fuel is easily transported and provides warmth off the grid. It’s one of a few agricultural uses, which account for 6-percent of the country’s total demand. (Crop drying is a real biggie.) The poultry industry on the DelMarVa peninsula is a big propane customer.

And so are the poultry raisers in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. One farmer said he expects to burn upwards of 10,000 gallons because of this nasty winter, according to a local ABC-affiliate, WHSV. And with propane prices on the rise, there is now talk of forming an agricultural co-operative to reduce costs.

Yesterday, local farmers met at a volunteer fire station to talk up the benefits of co-op buying. With the high-volume burn, these guys already pay wholesale prices, which are about 55 to 60-percent of the retail price — though it remains a larger expense than feed, one farmer said. Buying in big batches has the potential to trim another 30 to 50 cents a gallon, one farmer said. The farmers are planning to regroup soon to work out the details.

So what if consumers got together for collective buying? They do. And it looks like Heat USA.