Broiler Poultry Lighting

The Science of Broiler Lighting

Light, a key environmental factor and essential to sustain life, is why raising animals in indoor facilities requires specialized lighting programs to achieve optimal results. ONCE® animal-centric lighting systems offering a scientifically-proven solution designed to influence desirable physiological and biological processes in animals. With AgriShift® technology and a production dimmer program, light intensity, photoperiod and color spectrum can be adjusted for better performance, naturally resulting in increased production and enhanced animal welfare. However, artificial lighting programs must be applied with a thorough understanding of the animal’s response to light and the significance of the different characteristics of light.

The light we see affects our mind and a wide variety of metabolic processes within our body. Eyes are undeniably one of our most important organs. It is where light penetrates the retina and stimulates multiple biological functions. The light we perceive is part of the electromagnetic spectrum our eyes can detect, known as the visible spectrum.

The Effect of Lighting Indoors

There are several aspects of artificial light important to poultry producers, including these of some significance:

  1. Spectral composition: The distribution of light wavelengths (indicates how much of each color is present)
  2. Photoperiod: The number of hours of light and dark in a 24-hour period
  3. Light intensity: The total amount of luminous power produced in the visual part of the light spectrum

Using an inappropriate artificial light, or simply improperly measured light intensities, will result in the illuminance (footcandle, lux) being too high or too low. The consequences of inappropriate lighting may affect health, production and welfare of your flock due to the abnormal light-induced biological responses.

Broilers’ See Differently

The graphs below show the typical color sensitivity of a human eye compared to the sensitivity of a typical chicken eye. In the Human Eye Spectrum (left) the highest sensitivity is in green and yellow, showing that humans see these colors better than they see blue and red. In the Domestic Fowl Spectrum you can see there are 4 (four) distinct color peaks. The highest sensitivities are to green, blue and red light but you can see another one in the UV spectrum (far left peak on the curve).

Improve Animal Welfare

Abrupt changes have been shown to excite flight responses which have a negative effect on the well-being of the bird. ONCE® lighting programs and systems are directed toward minimizing extreme changes in lighting. By offering fixtures that provide natural sunrise and sunset simulation, the stress inputs of abruptly switching lights on and off are eliminated, lowering mortality, supporting a birds’ immune response and reducing stress to improve animal livability.

Broilers’ Natural Habitat

An animals’ natural habitat was meant to be outside—more specifically, the red jungle fowl, an ancestor of the domestic chicken, originated in the rain forests of Southeast Asia. A place where photoperiods are not as drastic and light intensities and spectrum are different when compared to open land areas and many parts of the country. Pecking, nervousness, feed source recognition and hormonal responses may all be seen in chickens outside of their natural habitat, causing increased stress and decreased animal welfare.

Remembering back to the beginning, when it was a natural part of life for every living creature to experience a morning sunrise and an evening sunset, is the reason we focus on perfecting the science of animal-centric lighting with our mission to: Improve animal health through applied photo-biology.

Sunset and Sunrise

The circadian pacemaker consists of two component oscillators. One is entrained to dusk and controls the onset of melatonin secretion. The second is entrained to dawn and controls the melatonin amplitude. The natural daylight spectrum during sunsets and sunrises is different from natural light at noon. There are also significant seasonal variances in the spectral composition of sunset and sunrise light.

Birds react not only to seasonal changes in daylength, but also seasonal changes in the light spectrum. These facts add to the importance of considering spectrum in the addition of sunrise/sunset controls in artificial lighting choices. The second picture on your right illustrates the typical spectrum of a summer sunset.

In the spectrum charts below, daylight at noon is compared to daylight at sunset is compared.

Enhance Productivity

The Importance of Light Color

Light source selection plays a very important role for poultry growers. As far back as 1987, the Wall Street Journal reported that chickens raised under full-spectrum lighting lived twice as long and were less aggressive. Since that time, researchers have continued to study the effects of color.

Blue and Green Spectrum

Consistently, research concludes monochromatic LED source lighting increases growth in broilers reared under green monochromatic light during the early stage by enhancing proliferation of skeletal muscle satellite cells.

The blue spectrum has been shown to naturally calm chickens. Therefore, by providing lighting that shifts from red content in brood to blue content during grow-out, performance is maximized, while aggressive behaviors are minimized. Blue light has also been shown to be helpful in the growth and sexual development of poultry at a later age by elevation of plasma androgens.

Combined green and blue light promotes myofiber growth due to more effective stimulation of testosterone secretion. Other studies show exposure to blue light causes a decrease in blood pressure and positively effects blood glucose levels and triglyceride levels.

The graphs below illustrate the distinct advantages of LED lighting for the domestic fowl in general (left) and the unique advantages of lighting with ONCE®, broiler-specific Dim-to-Blue® Technology.

Proven Results

Recent scientific trials proved that broilers raised under Junglite Green™ Technology compared to those under a regular blue-enriched white LED showed reduction in bird feed consumption per pound of meat produced. With a .028 feed conversion rate improvement, this provides an ROI after the first flock!

Additional scientific studies produced from researchers at the USDA ARS* testing the effects of lighting on productivity, health and animal welfare for broilers, found that ONCE® LEDs out-performed all other bulbs. ONCE® lighting fixtures also showed an increase (3-5%) in body weight compared to incandescent light bulbs—higher than any other LED bulb tested (Olanreqaju et al., 2015a).

Experience a Return-On-Investment

When applied properly, lighting can greatly enhance performance and therefore profitability. A lighting system in a barn has three characteristics–color of the light (wavelength), intensity of the light, and the amount of time the lights are on each day (daily photoperiod). With advancing LED technologies, farmers can now simultaneously vary the color, intensity and photoperiod of the lighting in animal houses and barns.

Reporting back more than 10 years, the  skillful application of LED lighting systems can increase net profit by 20-30% (Rozenboim et al., 2005).

The Right Lighting Program

At ONCE®, we dedicate every extra penny into researching the science of light exclusively for the agricultural market. This allows us to recommend the right lighting program that is guaranteed to simultaneously improve the production and welfare of your animal.

Like in 2014, when we collaborated with Stephen F. Austin State University and Texas A&M University to study the best LED lighting programs for broilers. This study was conducted over a two-year period and had lighting programs that prescribed not only photoperiod but also light intensity and lamp spectrum.

The Right Lighting Layout

ONCE® has a team of experts who know the best solutions specific to you and your animals. They make sure you get a lighting layout with the correct light levels and placement of the lights, for free! They can also help answer questions about lighting schedules and surge protectors as well. Contact someone on our Broiler team today to learn more about what the right lighting program can do for you:
broilers@once.group
+1 (763) 381-5621 – Ext. 3

Also, see this Review of Lighting Programs for Broiler Production (PDF)

Economic Advantage

LED lighting has become a favored choice in broiler facilities in the U.S.A. because delivers high energy savings when compared to traditional lighting sources such as incandescent or fluorescent lighting.

The following is an example of recent results of in situ trials of LED lighting programs in poultry barns in the USA.

Type of Lamp Age at Harvest (Days) Average Body Weight (lbs) Feed Conversion
Incandescent 49 5.67 1.94
LED 49 5.87 1.91

The birds under the LED lighting program in this trial were 3% heavier than the same age birds reared under traditional incandescent lighting. Given that these barns hold over 20,000 birds at a time, this results in a 3% gain in weight. In addition, the birds gained more weight but ate less food, a difference of 0.03 in feed conversion. This amounts to $10,000 per barn per flock. With the ordinary farmer growing 6 flocks a year for each barn (and 2 to 4 barns on a farm).

Durable and Lasting Product Design

ONCE® animal-centric lighting systems go beyond traditional LEDs by offering a SOLUTION so both the animal and your bottom line benefit. By researching the science of light exclusively for the agricultural market, ONCE® is able to incorporate a robust design that is made specifically for harsh agricultural environments.

The Jelly Jar (JJ), Junction Box (JB), and Hard Wire (HW) versions are suitable for use in wet locations and are IP-66 rated.  Article 547 of the National Electric Code requires LED luminaries in agricultural building be suitable for wet locations. This is to prevent electrical shock hazard, reduce the risk of fire, and prolong the life of the equipment.

In addition to being wet-rated, ONCE® lighting systems are built to withstand the corrosive vapors from animal excrement and excessive dust accumulation. This prolongs the life and eliminates maintenance costs.

Energy Savings

Switching from incandescent lighting to LED lighting with dimming can save you anywhere from 85 to 95% of your lighting electricity costs. Switching from compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to ONCE® LED lighting products saves from 45 to 50%.