Agricultural lighting for poultry farming

The vital role of agricultural lighting in broiler farm management

Why is agricultural lighting so important?

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Lighting plays a crucial role in poultry houses, including in broiler houses. The birds need light to see each other, explore their surroundings and locate feed and water. But the importance of good poultry lighting goes beyond just making their surroundings visible. The light colour and spectrum, the light plan and the intensity influence the behavioural patterns of the birds and consequently have a far-reaching impact on health and even on growth. It's important to be aware that poultry vision is different to human sight. As well as seeing red, blue and green, they are also sensitive to ultraviolet light so they see objects in their surroundings, such as feeders and each other, differently to how we as humans see the world around us. So let's shed some light on the importance of poultry house lighting.

Night light with agricultural lighting

Biological clock and day-night cycle 

Just like humans, broilers have an internal biological clock that is regulated by light. This biological clock regulates their daily activities, including eating, resting and even producing hormones that are essential for growth and development. A well-designed light plan mimics the natural day-night cycle. This helps to maintain their natural rhythms and promotes a healthy sleep pattern. Ensuring there are sufficient periods of darkness is essential for rest and recovery, which in turn boosts growth.

Agricultural lighting affects behaviour and activity 

Good agricultural lighting not only affects the physiology of the birds, it also influences their behaviour as it stimulates activity during the day. Broilers exposed to sufficient levels of light are more active, explore their surroundings more and exhibit natural behaviour such ranging and foraging. An increase in physical activity can contribute indirectly to better feed intake and growth.

Growth hormones and metabolism 

Light also directly affects the secretion of certain hormones in animals, such as growth hormones. A good light plan can help regulate these hormones. This in turn affects the metabolism of the birds and can lead to more efficient utilisation of nutrients and better growth. Studies have revealed that, influenced by the correct light plans, broilers show a better growth performance and convert feed more efficiently into muscle mass.

Stress and welfare

The wrong type of agricultural lighting may cause the broiler stress which can result in higher mortality rates, excessive huddling of the flock and high feed conversion rates among other things. Too much or too little light can cause discomfort and disturbs the natural behaviour and physiology of the birds. On the other hand, the right type of lighting contributes to a comfortable environment and can reduce stress, which is beneficial for the growth of the birds. Good lighting also reduces the risk of undesirable behaviour such as feather pecking.

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House lighting for broilers and laying hens. Flicker-free LED lighting controlled by our poultry computers.

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Feed intake 

Agricultural lighting can affect the feed intake. Broilers need light to be able to locate their feed. Sufficient, well-placed lighting ensures the birds can easily access feed, which improves their feed intake and growth.

Uniform growth

Lighting can ensure uniform conditions throughout the house. This encourages even distribution of the birds over the house which stimulates uniform growth. The intense grouping of broilers - huddling - is a common problem in broiler houses. Huddling can have severe consequences such as higher mortality and wet litter, which results in footpad lesions and breast blisters. To improve broiler well-being and performance, it is important they spread uniformly throughout the house. The correct lighting is a very important tool in realising this.

Adapting the light plan

Applying the right light plan is crucial. This includes regulating the colour and intensity of light, but also the duration and pattern of light and dark periods. A gradual transition from light to dark and vice versa helps the birds maintain natural sleep and wake cycles, which improves their health and performance.

It is important to realise that the optimal light plan may differ according to the breed, age of the birds, the ambient temperature and the specific goals of the producer. A carefully regulated light plan that is adapted to suit the natural needs of the birds will certainly contribute to their health, welfare and growth.

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Daglicht met agrarische verlichting

What aspects should you consider when choosing poultry lighting equipment?

Finally, there are some aspects you should consider when buying your poultry lighting equipment. These six important aspects will help you adapt the poultry house lighting to suit the needs of the birds.

  1. Light spectrum: This is the part of the light that birds can see. A lighting solution with a broad light spectrum mimics natural daylight the closest and improves the vision and welfare of the birds.
  2. Light flicker: Poultry recognise more single images per second. This means they perceive flickering in low frequency lamps that we cannot see. This can cause stress. Flicker-free lighting, such as LED lighting for poultry houses, improves their well-being.
  3. Light distribution and intensity: It is important the light is evenly distributed. Creating the right light intensity in the right place improves the living environment for your birds. So, have a customised light plan designed that aligns perfectly with the conditions in your poultry house and meets the needs of the birds.
  4. Dimmable from 100-0%: The lighting must gradually transition from bright to dark to simulate a natural day and night rhythm. This reduces stress and benefits the welfare of the birds.
  5. CRI: The Colour Rendering Index (CRI) indicates how natural colours render under an artificial white light source when compared with sunlight. A CRI of at least 80 is recommended for poultry to give the best visibility.
  6. CCT: The Correlated Colour Temperature (CTT ) is what defines the colour of a light source. The higher the colour temperature, the ‘bluer’ the light is. The lower the colour temperature, the 'redder' the light is. The correct colour temperature for optimal visibility varies according to the type of poultry.

In broiler houses, light has a greater significance than just ensuring visibility. It has a fundamental effect on various aspects of the life cycle of the birds, from their growth and productivity to their health and behaviour. For this reason, choose your poultry lighting equipment carefully and be critical. The correct choice will ensure your birds can develop in the best of health and will boost your productivity.

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