Layer Poultry Lighting

The Science of Layer 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® LED lighting systems for Layers provide increased egg output, lower mortality, longer peak production period, and improved animal welfare for aviary, cage-free, enrichable, and traditional systems.

Along with the energy savings, Layer-specific lighting systems are designed to mimic the spectral sensitivity curves of poultry and provide Dim-to-Red® Technology for enhanced productivity. With a ONCE® LED lighting system and a production dimmer program; light intensity, photoperiod, and color spectrum can all be controlled for better performance.

The Effect of Lighting Indoors

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. 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.

Layers’ 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 the smooth white line curve and large hill in the center of the curve is showing that humans see green and yellow 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 sensitivity are to green, blue and red light but you can see another one in the UV spectrum (far left bump on the curve).

Improve Animal Welfare

Reducing stress improves animal livability and performance. Sunrise and sunset simulation eliminates the stress inputs of switching lights on and off abruptly, lowering mortality and supporting a bird’s immune response. Research and on-farm testing using AgriShift® lighting has shown immediate changes in bird behavior, increased performance and lower overall stress indicators.

ONCE® lighting programs and systems are directed toward minimizing extreme changes in lighting. Abrupt changes are shown to excite flight responses, increasing cortisol levels and inhibit melatonin secretion—both of which have a negative effect on the well-being of the bird. By offering LED fixtures that present uniform coverage and a consistent light, as well as the ability to provide sunset and sunrise functionality, corticosterone levels and other stress markers are minimized.

Layers’ 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.

ONCE® layer and breeder specific lighting systems are designed with a deep red saturated light with added blue and green spectrum (for poultry vision). The red spectrum used has been shown to stimulate a bird’s hypothalamic and pineal oscillators, helping to maintain circadian rhythms and promoting sexual maturity. It also stimulates the release of two reproduction regulating hormones, essential for sexual maturation and daily egg production. Learn more about the red and blue/green spectrum below.

Red Spectrum

One of the main functions of red light when raising Layers and Breeders is to regulate Melatonin and stimulate reproductive activity. The red spectrum is the only spectrum which entrains hypothalamic and pineal oscillators. The rhythm of melatonin synthesis is driven both by an extrapineal and an intrapineal oscillator entrained by light and dark information, which is perceived directly and indirectly by the pineal gland. Melatonin enhances the immune response and counteracts immunodeficiency states resulting from acute stress, viral diseases, aging, or drug treatment.

The hypothalamus is the reproductive controller of the hen. When a hen responds to a light, it involves the stimulation of hypothalamic photosensitive cells by receiving light energy at photostimulation. This means that light intensity and spectrum must be adequate to have the light energy penetrate the feathers, the skin, the skull and the brain tissue. Light stimulation of the hypothalamus results in the secretion of Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH). When activated by GnRH, the anterior pituitary secretes two gonadotropin hormones, Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH). FSH acts on sperm-producing structures in the testes, while LH acts on the interstitial cells of the testes causing them to secrete the steroid hormone testosterone. LH is essential for sexual maturation and for daily egg production to occur and is an integral component of the day-to-day events of ovulation.

There is a widely held belief now supported by research that red light increases the growth rate of chickens and turkeys when it’s provided at the beginning of the rearing period. This is due to the fact that red light stimulates locomotion activity and the ability of adolecsent birds to more easily find and consume food. The increase in activity helps minimize leg disorders in the late rearing period.

Blue and Green Spectrum

ONCE® pullet-specific lighting solutions use an enhanced blue/green spectrum with added red content for healthy bird development. The spectrums used stimulate a birds’ highest color sensitivity, encouraging growth during the early stages by enhancing proliferation of skeletal muscle satellite cells, while repairing and building muscle. Green light can be helpful in the growth and sexual development of poultry during the early growth stages, while blue light has been shown to elevate plasma androgens, allowing the bird to put on more muscle mass at later stages of development.

Studies have also shown that blue light can calm birds and positively affect glucose and triglyceride levels. Consistently, research concludes monochromatic LED source lighting increases growth in pullets reared under green monochromatic light during the early stage by enhancing proliferation of skeletal muscle satellite cells.

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

In 2016, one of the largest egg producers in the world compared ONCE® layer-specific Dim-to-Red® LED Technology  with regular CFL bulbs on 250,000 hens (125,000 hens per treatment) through a 70 week laying cycle. The birds housed with ONCE® Dim-to-Red® Technology produced 28.6 more egg per hens houses, resulting in an 8% increase.

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.

Multiple studies have proven that choosing a ONCE® layer-specific LED supplied with the best spectrum and recommended light intensity can have a major impact on egg production. In one study, eggs/hen/week was maximized at 4.34 +0.18 by using ONCE® programmed lighting. This programmed lighting showed a statistically significant increase of 38 eggs
per hen over a 27-week production period. In a barn holding 10,000 laying hens this amounts to a substantial increase in production.

The Right Lighting Program

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 Layer team today to learn more about what the right lighting program can do for you:
layers@once.group
+1 (763) 381-5621 – Ext. 2

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%.

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.

ONCE AgriShift Dim-to-Red Poultry Fixtures Exceed Expectations on First Install

Maurice Richard
Riviere-Hava, Quebec
Operation: Egg Layers
Lamps: AgriShift® Dim-to-Red

Mr. Richard of Riviere-Hava, Quebec is no stranger to poultry farming, but is new to the idea of LEDs being used to save on electrical lighting costs and increasing productivity of his egg laying operation. So far, he’s glad to be on the leading edge of what he thinks will quickly become the standard light source for the industry.

“We’ll continue to accumulate data and see how it goes from here,” said Mr Richard, “but at this point we’re very pleased. Our hens are 22 weeks old and we’re already at 95% productivity. This is well beyond our expectations from a productivity standpoint and the birds look extremely healthy, too.”

Mr. Richard installed 130 AgriShift® Dim-to-Red® Poultry Lamps to provide 22,000 laying hens with more light in blue and red wavelengths than conventional lighting. According to Dennis Bonet, Director of International Sales for ONCE®, the developer and manufacturer of AgriShift® LED Poultry Lamps,

“Maurice is able to simulate day and night photoperiods and the light spectrum of sunrise and sunset with dimming controls. This provides the birds with the most natural light environment possible and stimulates healthy biological functions such as melatonin production that reduces stress and increases egg production.”

The AgriShift® Dim-to-Red® LED Poultry Lamp for Layers saves approximately 88% of the cost of electricity for lighting over traditional incandescent lamps and is rated to last seven to ten years under normal barn conditions. Unlike Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs), the AgriShift® lamps contain no mercury and use approximately 11 watts of power, provides approximately 700 poultry-adjusted lumens at full intensity, meets IP66 standards against dirt and moisture intrusion, and are ETL Listed to UL & CSA safety standards.

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).