Birds-Eye View

Poultry production can be improved by optimising the welfare needs of the animal while minimising running costs. Lighting intensity and spectral quality play a significant role in control of poultry’s reproductive cycle and its overall growth and performance. The cost of production can be reduced through installation of a well-designed and efficient LED lighting system.

BioLumen’s AgriRay lighting range provides a tailored and economical solution to delivering real welfare benefits with reduced running costs in difficult operating conditions. High ammonia and humidity alongside variable temperatures are features of most animal production systems and this has presented real challenges to traditional lighting systems, such as fluorescents, when used with indoor and outdoor rearing enclosures.

The absence of any adequate control on the intensity and quality of light delivered by current animal lighting technologies, coupled with the ongoing costs of bulb replacement, means farmers are trapped in a cycle of inefficient energy use, with no biological dividend and therefore no improvement in production. Upgrade to AgriRay LEDs and make your lighting work for you, now, and in the future.

Chickens and Light

Birds perceive light differently from humans, not only through the eyes but through photoreceptors deep in the brain. Chickens detect and respond to different wavelengths of light in a way that can profoundly change behaviour and affect development. Light directly affects hormonal secretion in the pineal gland and the hypothalamus, which in turn controls both circadian rhythms and seasonal growth and sexual reproduction.

Another key difference between birds and humans is the way they perceive and respond to differing wavelengths of light, even outside the visual range of humans. Importantly, chickens evolved as daytime foragers under jungle foliage and are tetrachromic, having at least 4 daytime colour sensing cone cells in the eyes, (compared to 3 in humans). It has been found that while blue light has a calming effect on birds, blue-green light encourages growth, and orange- red light stimulates the reproductive cycle.

Most importantly, at least one of the cone cell types is specifically designed to sense short-wave violet light, including near Ultra Violet light (UVa). This is important for foraging and feeding where the UV reflectance of different feed types will affect finding feed and its acceptance. The signalling and communication role of UV perception is also important in chickens. Reflectance of UV from plumage, especially from sexually different or species- specific plumage, will reveal important colour variations that are undetectable to the human eye.The ability to recognise colour cues, only visible in the presence of UV light, will affect mate-choice decisions, inter- and intra-specific behavioural interactions, and most likely impact the overall well-being, and therefore welfare of the bird under production conditions.

Broilers and Layers

The same industry issues affect both broiler and layer birds – both types of chicken need light to be able to feed, to stimulate their internal cycles, and initiate the release of sex hormones. Without the right light, hens will not grow properly or lay eggs all year round.

Most current lighting strategies in poultry farming waste energy and are sub-optimal for the welfare of the livestock. Inefficient technology with inadequate spectral quality and other unsuitable characteristics means the light technology currently used in most production installations needs updating. Incandescent and high-intensity discharge lamps, the only option for poultry farmers for decades, were energy inefficient and had a short lifespan, while their narrow spectrum could never meet the poultry’s industry needs. Fluorescent tubes, the most widely used form of lighting in layer production, are more energy efficient, cheaper and longer lasting, but, nonetheless still waste much of their energy on producing unusable long-wavelength light and heat, and are very expensive to control in terms of dimming. What’s more, white fluorescent lamps do not emit significant levels of UV light and while there is enough short-wave light initially to benefit layers, the phosphors degrade with time, further weakening blue spectral output and potentially causing behavioural problems and threatening overall poultry performance. All current lighting types are limited in terms of emitting sufficient energy in the important wavelengths (colours) perceived by chickens via their complex photo-receptors in both the eyes and brain.

Chickens, as daytime foragers, are very sensitive to minute changes in light and the low 100Hz flicker rate of even modern fluorescent lighting is lower than the maximum or Critical Flicker Frequency (CFF) reported as detectable by some chickens, which may prove stressful at different stages of development. There is also the potential of harm from mercury amalgam used in the manufacture of fluorescent lamps. If damaged in situ there is a risk of mercury contamination of food and living environment.

Why Choose AgriRay LED Lighting?

The huge potential financial and production benefits of Light emitting Diode (LED) lighting are still widely ignored in the poultry industry.

AgriRay LED Lighting is efficient in delivering light where it is needed and is easily and cost-effectively controlled. Large decreases in energy input in poultry houses can be expected, potentially saving up to 70% of electricity used for lighting over five years.The long life of AgriRay LED emitters – up to 50,000 hours – helps producers save on the maintenance costs of replacing fluorescent tubes, as recommended, every 8-12000 hours (to avoid the impact of degradation of the phosphors on output and spectral quality).

Uniquely, AgriRay LED lighting can feature a narrow range of wavelengths or colours or a combination of different colours in a single lighting fixture, specifically targeted to boost the bird’s performance at different stages of production. Improved spectral quality will boost growth, sexual development and productive condition, and improve behavioural issues including feeding response.

AgriRay LED fixtures contain no mercury and have a high flicker rate of 1000 Hz or more, well beyond the highest CFF measured in any research work on chickens.

For the first time AgriRay LED lighting offers complete control over the delivery of the appropriate light intensity and spectral quality, at all times of the day and for all stages of the production cycle of the chicken. The AgriRay lighting range has been developed with a unique understanding of how the right lighting choices can improve the well-being and productivity of your livestock.