The assurance of optimum indoor climate in areas occupied by humans and animals has been widely discussed recently. The considerations specifically include temperature, illumination, relative humidity, air flow rates, and presence of draughts. These parameters are too often disregarded for farm animals. This particularly includes light. It is completely unreasonable to do so, as these indoor parameters are essential to correct and efficient functioning of farm animals.

Let us begin with some theory, or what is light?

Electromagnetic radiation is all around us, everywhere, every minute. It is decisive to many aspects of our daily life, like transmission of heat (infrared radiation), or connectivity over mobile phones or radio frequency equipment (RF waves). There are more bands of electromagnetic radiation spectrum, and specific wavelengths find different applications. Visible light is a band of electromagnetic radiation. The human eye can see it at wavelengths from 380 to 780 nm, but animals can see on different wavelengths. This depends on what part of the light spectrum is detected by the eye of an animal species. Every higher form of life sees objects and colours through receptors which are called ‘cone cells’ which are sensitive to different wavelengths of light. Humans have three types of eye cone cells which makes us see what is commonly known as red, blue, and yellow light. Animals may have more or less cone cell types. Chickens, for example, have five different cone cell types. Aside of the three cone cell types, chickens also have cone cells sensitive to violet light and motion-detecting cone cells. Farm animals like cattle, as well as cats and dogs, usually cannot distinguish red because they have only blue and yellow cone cells. This knowledge is what we put to work and design the new line of the Ultima Agro luminaires.

Human vs. cattle visible light wavelengths

The light in animal husbandry practice…

… is critical if you need to maintain a healthy balance between efficient farm production and comfort of your farm animals. An optimal lighting solution will give you and your animals plenty of benefits; choosing LED lamps adds plenty of savings on energy too.

Lighting in meat cattle and milk cow farming

We understand that your animal farming operation should conform to Polish regulations and European regulations. For production and marketing of raw, unprocessed milk, the applicable European regulation is Council Directive 92/46/EEC of 16 June 1992. If provides guidelines for milking rooms, and specifically what type of light should be used there.

You probably understand that optimum illumination favours production from cows. With the illuminance of 150-200 lx, the cows can boost their milk production even by several liters a day. Numerous research papers state that maximum milk yield requires the cows to remain active for 16 hours a day and rest for a minimum of 8 hours. How can you achieve this performance in our climate, especially in winter days when sunlight is available for a few hours only?

Cows have only two types of eye cone cells, detecting blue and green. LED lights which generate a light spectrum close to that of sunlight in the cowshed help stimulate optimum daily activity of the cattle and make it longer. LED lights are more energy-efficient than filament or discharge lamps.

Your work on the farm entails many different tasks and so you might happen to do some of them at night, which is when the animals need to rest. The best solution here will be to use luminaires which output red light, which the cattle cannot see. Note, however, that a sudden increase of light output can disorient the animals, so a light control system will be very much needed.

Modern lighting solutions can help you save on power costs and enable stimulation of correct activity and resting hours of the cattle.

Lighting for pigs

Proper illumination, its operating time, and intensity are critical to pig farming. The minimum requirements you need to provide in your pigsty operation is the pigs’ access to light for a minimum of 8 hours a day, and the luminous flux must be 40 lx or higher. It is important especially to the sex cycle of the sows. As you know, a pigsty interior which is too dark can throw the sex cycle off balance which will harm reproduction yield. If you manage to extend the illumination time to 16 h a day with 200-250 lx near the mating time and in the three first weeks of gestation, you will definitely improve the reproduction yield.

Proper illumination is also important to the quality of boar sperm. It achieves its peak if the boars enjoy 10-12 hours of 360 lx a day.

Young pigs can suffer from growth problems if their access to light is subpar. An illumination exposure of piglets and fatteners above the minimum duration may improve the growth and body mass increase. Here, it will be optimum to use lights with an output above the mandatory minimum of 40 lx. Research has demonstrated that blue LED lights in pigsties will make the pigs eat more. Pigsties can do with a lower light colour temperature than the usual one.

An optimum selection of lighting conditions provides many benefits which contribute to normal functioning of the animals.

Lighting for poultry farming

Poultry is especially sensitive to lighting conditions and require carefull planning of light in henhouses. For hens, the illumination exposure duration, luminous flux, and light colour are important. These parameters allow you to control the biological processes in the birds and improve the effectiveness of governing their daily cycle. Hens and chicks have sharp vision and perceive flickering of light. Minimum-flicker LED lights is recommended here to improve the benefits from your farming operation.

Flickering is the pulsing or flicker of light, and one of contributing factors for visual comfort at work places, next to the spectral distribution and luminous flux of light. Light flicker is a term for fast, periodic changes in light intensity. In typical conditions, most humans cannot see light flickers above 80 Hz, which is the limit value in LED lights.

It is important for the henhouse interior lights to achieve a high uniformity, which is possible with a careful and optimum planning of your lighting system. This is crucial for hens tend to ‘pack’ and trample in areas where light is strong.

A system of LED light luuminaires endows you with control over other, incorrect behaviour of the animals. How to control light and manage the behaviour of hens in the henhouse? You need to remember that hens have more types of cone cells than humans, and the wavelengths they can see are wider. Each colour of light has a unique effect on the physiology of hens. If your poultry operation suffers from cannibalism or overt picking inside of the henhouse, red-light photostimulation will reduce both phenomena. If you need to work inside of the henhouse without scaring the animals, turn on the calming blue or violet lights, which the hens do not see.

Red light reduces aggression levels in hens and promotes their body mass increase. White light helps accelerate the body mass increase in chickens.

To considerably improve the yield of laying hens, you can use red or amber-red light, which also helps reduce the feed intake.

As you can see, it is crucial to control the colour and luminous flux of light in the henhouse. LED lights provide both.

Optimum illumination in different growth stages of hens

Fast-track egg production programme

Age
(weeks)

Luminous flux
(lx)

Light exposure (h)

Process

Total quantity

ON

OFF

1-2 (d)

20-40

24

24

0

Restoration of biological equilibrium in the animals

3-6 (d)

20-30

16

4

2

Start of the light control process: activity and sleep cycles

The first week of life of chickens is the most demanding one in terms of luminous flux and light exposure time. To bring the hatchlings to biological equilibrium at your farm as soon as possible, you should provide them with approx. 40 lx for 24 hours during the next two days. This will provide them with more time to feed and drink. In subsequent days, start controlling the lights to adjust the activity and sleep cycles of your chickens. An intermittent illumination programme is recommended with 4 h of sleep alternating with 2 h of activity (by operating the lights off and on, respectively).

2

10-20

14

3,5

2,5

Light exposure time reduction and luminous flux reduction

3

10-20

13

3,25

2,75

4

4-6

12

3

3

5

4-6

11

2,75

3,25

6

4-6

10

2,5

3,5

7

4-6

9

2,25

3,75

8

4-6

8

2

4

Growing period

The rearing time for chickens is between the 8th and the 18th week of life. In this period, it is best to use low-intensity lights at 4-6 lx for 8 h a day in cycles of 2 h of activity followed by 4 h of sleep.

9

4-6

8

2

4

10

4-6

8

2

4

11

4-6

8

2

4

12

4-6

8

2

4

13

4-6

8

2

4

14

4-6

8

2

4

15

4-6

8

2

4

16

4-6

8

2

4

17

4-6

8

2

4

18

10-15

8

2

4

19

10-15

9

2,25

3,75

Stimulation by extending illumination time

In subsequent weeks when the chickens start to become mature, you can start extending their illumination time and increase the luminous flux to approx. 15 lx. This will prep the animals for the laying period.

20

10-15

10

2,5

3,5

21

10-15

11

2,75

3,25

22

10-15

12

3

3

23

10-15

13

3,25

2,75

24

10-15

14

3,5

2,5

Laying period (do not reduce the illumination time)

By the 24/25th week of life, the hens should enter the laying period. You can keep the lights at 15 lx while extending the illumination time to 14 h. This light stimulation regime should provide you with optimum production results. Note, however, that during the laying period it is not recommended to shorten the illumination time.

25

10-15

14

3,5

2,5

Proper illumination in production of eggs

Are LED lights optimum for animal farm buildings?

You can enjoy plenty of benefits if using LED lights at your farm. It will provide you with illumination control, making it perfct to cowsheds, pigsties, and henhouses. A LED lamp system also provides energy savings, and up to 80% at that.

Also note that the luminaires for animal buildings should withstand high ambient temperatures; young animals in the rearing period require above-average heating. The luminaires you want to specity should have a sufficient IP rating due to high relative humidity and volatile chemicals indoors.

To sum up…

As you can see, the light is very important for animal husbandry. Modern farming requires tailored approach to every type of farm animal, and especially to the artificial lights for them. Our designers will lead you step by step through the whole lighting engineering pipeline for you to receive an efficient lighting system to meet the needs of you and your farming operation.

Natural colour: 150-200 lx

Red colour for inspection work

Natural colour: 20-40 lx

Red colour, if approved by a veterinarian

Natural colour: 40-400 lx

Red colour for inspection work

General guidelines for the specified species

Farming type

Task

Light parameters

Cattle

Activity:

min. 16h

ca. 200lx - natural colour

Rest: max. 8h

Red light for inspection

Pigs

Min. value per species

Activity:

minimum 8h

ca. 40lx

Sows, mating and up to 3rd gestation week

Activity: max. 16h

200-250 lx

Boars

Activity: 10-12h

300-400 lx

Fatteners and piglets

Activity:

min. 8h

luminous flux above minimum (>40lx) - cool colour (recommended: 5000K)

Poultry

A high share of blue and violet light spectrum components has a calming effect.

Red light reduces aggression and promotes poultry body mass growth

min. 20lx, highly uniform distribution

Chickens

Activity: 22-23h

30-40lx

Correct illumination per farm animal species

Remember to consult a veterinarian to coordinate luminous flux levels at the farm: a flux too high or too low may have negative impact.


See other articles


Wyzwania związane z używaniem opraw LED w trudnych środowiskach

What are the most common problems and challenges of using LED luminaires in harsh environments?

It is common in industrial lighting to install LED luminaires in harsh environments. The diversity of industries has to do with the multitude of factors that affect the quality and correctness of lighting systems.

Read More

How to use lighting control in a factory?

The use of smart lighting control in factories is growing in popularity. This is because it combines convenience and often significant savings as well.

Read More


Do you need help
in choosing lighting?

Contact us

+48 511 916 484

9.00 – 16.00

Fill in the form

Message us