Image by Erwan Hesry

Dairy cattle

FARM-LED lighting systems

ARTIFICIAL LIGHT, WELLNESS AND TOP PRODUCTIVITY

Well-being and productivity are inextricably linked when it comes to stables and dairy cattle, the quality of the light sources during the various phases of the day are fundamental.

When light reaches the eyes of cattle it acts in the body as an inhibitor in the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for the sleep-wake cycle, thus causing a decrease in the sleep period and consequently lengthening that of the animal's activity, the consequence is that the cow eats more and increases milk production.

Specifically, it should be noted that depending on the age and production stage in which the animals are found, they will need different lighting conditions.

DIVISION OF AREAS

As regards the dairy cattle in production, where possible, it is ideal to differentiate the areas of the zootechnical shelter:

  • power lane lighting;

  • rest lane lighting.

The ideal values of light intensity are around 80-100 lux in the rest areas, while they must have values up to 140-180 lux in the power supply areas.

The light intensity values must be measured at a height of 1.50 meters, i.e. in correspondence with the photoreceptors of the retinas, which stimulate the pineal gland through the retinohypothalamic nervous tract.

As a result of the required levels of light intensity, the formation of melatonin is inhibited, conditioning the evolutionary biology of the animal which is "more awake".

With the greater activity of its biological functions, the animal feeds more and is more active with individual production increases, a higher reproductive level, with significant increases in PR value.

In the feeding lane the light is always kept on for 24 hours, on the contrary the photoperiod is applied on the rest lane (cubicles or permanent litter).

The light in the feeding aisle, thanks to the specially designed FARM-LED devices, does not impact the rest area, which remains perfectly obscured in the hours of darkness.

PHOTOPERIOD

Lactating cows

Speaking of photoperiod, the day is divided into short and long, where for each short day we mean an exposure to light of 8 hours, while for a long day the exposure must last up to at least 16 ÷ 18 hours.

This division is necessary because, by drastically changing the physiological needs of the cows during the lactation period compared to those of their dry phase, it has been found experimentally that the cows must have the "long day" effect during the lactation phases. .

The manipulation of the photoperiod with this sequence represents the solution that absolutely optimizes the productive and reproductive performance of the cows, with a sure positive effect on milk production (+ 6 ÷ 10%), on fertility (+% PR) and on the immune system in kind.

Dry cows

For cows in the dry period, phases of natural brightness are advisable: it is advisable to always keep the light on in the feeding lane, while in the rest lane to keep the natural light of the sun. Such a sequence results in increased milk production in the subsequent lactation. In addition, it has a positive influence on feed intake and the immune system.

Calves and heifers

For calves and heifers we have studied a specific type of light, according to the age of the animals. The specific light intensity for the two categories does not disturb the animal, which must grow in these specific phases. Light acting on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis affects the development of the reproductive system.

For these two categories, the lighting systems are installed on the feed lane (where the correct photoperiod will be performed).

For calves in single boxes, we recommend a gradual switch-on of the light, in conjunction with the feeding of the food. The lighting devices will remain on for the entire duration of the power supply and will turn off automatically. As the animal ages, the hours of light left available to the animal will also increase, also taking into account natural light.

In the calves after weaning we leave 10 hours of darkness, this has shown "active" calves for several hours a day. The animals go to the manger several times and for several hours a day, this leads to an increase in ingestion and a more homogeneous development of the group of animals, as even the weakest calves often approach the manger.

For the heifers, the hours of light are increased: 16h of light and 8h of light in the manger. This allows the animals to feed homogeneously and continuously, increasing ingestion and weight. Heifers reach puberty not as a function of age but of size.

The most important points of the heifer production process:

  • optimize growth;

  • achieve the first birth as soon as possible;

  • maximize fertility and heat detection;