Image by Tim Cooper

Poultry

FARM-LED lighting systems

ILLUMINATION OF SAYING HENS

Light influences the reproductive and productive activity of laying hens and is therefore an environmental parameter of fundamental importance in poultry farming.

In order to obtain the best performance, the control of the photoperiod is applied, intended both as hours of light administered and as light intensity.

The photoperiod plays the double role of influencing the animal's body growth and modulating the development and activity of the reproductive system.

In sheds influenced by the entry of external natural light such as: those with non-darkened windows, open external areas that can be scrubbed, fans that are not completely darkened, it is necessary to consider the effect of natural light in the drafting of the lighting programs.

In fact, in the shelters equipped with windows, the lighting is semi-natural, natural lighting is associated with artificial lighting, because the latter is used to integrate the natural source (to extend the hours of daily light ) if this is not suitable.

PLACEMENT

During transport from the weaning henhouse to the laying henhouse, the pullet does not feed and does not drink for several hours, therefore, upon arrival in the new henhouse, it is recommended to provide prolonged lighting, at least 20 hours, to allow her to find feeders and troughs.

Frequently, a relocation can mean a change in feeding and watering equipment, adopting a diet of different formulation and grain size, changes in light intensity, and a different ambient temperature.

In this situation, if the lighting duration is not increased, the animals can reduce their daily food intake by 10-20g, when instead they should increase their body weight by 70-80g per week.

After the transfer, the lighting programs must stimulate the growth of the hens, the maturation of the reproductive system and the laying.

PHOTOPERIOD

To achieve regular egg laying it is necessary to ensure that the hens have prolonged exposure to light.

The light stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete the hormones necessary for egg laying and, to maximize production, long photoperiod lighting programs are used in the hen farm.

For chicken coops with windows, a photoperiod of 14-16 hours of light per day is recommended, starting at 50% egg production. It is important that the lighting duration never decreases.

The increase of the photoperiod must be gradual.

The light program for the 17th week must be set on the basis of at least 10 hours of light and increased by one hour per week up to 14 hours of light in the 21st week, after which it must be kept constant at 16 hours of light until the end of the cycle.

Never turn on the artificial light before 4 am (Central European summer time).

During the spring period, the lighting program is affected by the extension of the period of natural light and is gradually increased to about 16 hours. When the natural light period begins to decrease, starting in July, the 16 hour light period should be kept constant until the end of production.

As the natural photoperiod varies throughout the year, periods of artificial light are added to the periods of natural light in the morning, before the onset of natural light, and in the evening before dark, so that the total duration of daily illumination is always the same and constant.

INTENSITY OF LIGHT  

The minimum light intensity to be kept on farms according to EU animal welfare regulations is 5-10 lux.

It turns out, however, to be a good managerial practice, to keep an intensity of 25-30 lux which allows adequate inspection of animals and equipment.

For the photoperiod to be effective, the dark phase (night) must be really dark: the brightness level must be less than 0.5 lux.

The intensity of the light must be uniform in the area frequented by the hens.

In free-range rearing the lamps must be positioned in such a way that there are no dark or excessively illuminated areas.

Shaded areas must be reduced to a minimum since hens must be prevented from laying eggs outside the nests in charge of collection, because by their very nature they look for dark places for laying.