The importance of red spectrum light for laying hens

This article was originally written in Dutch and published on  It goes over how poultry absorb light differently than humans and how that affects their biological and psychological processes. The red spectrum reduces stress and improves egg production. Read the full article in English below.

Light is important for both humans and animals. The light that we absorb through our eyes triggers multiple biological processes. The same is true for poultry, but a chicken not only absorbs lightl through the eyes, but also through the so-called pineal gland. This is therefore often called the third eye, and is located at the top of the brain, just below the comb. This third eye is particularly important for the reproductive organs and the day and night rhythm, which triggers multiple biological and psychological processes. Applying a lighting system that simulates sunrise and sunset, as well as maintaining a fixed pattern, will result in chickens experiencing an improved circadian rhythm and lower stress levels.

Why red light is so important

Most laying hen farmers now know that we should not use ‘cold light’, and therefore when investing in new lighting, warm white or amber lighting is often chosen. The reason for this lies in the fact that these light sources contain more red light. Specifically, it is certain wavelengths in the red spectrum that penetrate the comb and brain pan. Laying hens, which are offered relief that contains too little of the red spectrum, will have a less good daily rhythm, higher stress levels and therefore a lower production.

With this knowledge the researchers from ONCE, a Signify company, developed a solution that allows laying hens to receive sufficient light from the red spectrum at all times. In addition to an optimal spectrum for a good view of the laying hen, extra specific wave springs in the red spectrum were added to the light source, giving the third eye more red light, even in comparison with amber lighting. Applications with customers show that higher production results are achieved by applying this optimized color spectrum.

Need a replacement?

Most of the LED lighting, which has been supplied in aviary systems in recent years, has a lifespan of 50,000 hours L70. Unlike with incandescent or fluorescent lighting, LED lighting does not break down overnight, but the intensity of the lighting decreases. The L70 after the number of hours indicates that after 50,000 hours the lighting only provides approximately 70 percent of its initial light intensity. 50,000 hours seems pretty long, but knowing that the lighting in most sheds is on for about 16 hours a day, this is about 8.5 years. Since it is important to provide sufficient light intensity to maintain optimal results, a laying poultry farmer must therefore be vigilant that the intensity of the LED lighting does not become too low.

If your lighting needs to be replaced, do not hesitate to contact us today! We are happy to help you with suitable advice. You can find us at the Dutch Poultry Expo in Hardenberg, or by contacting Niels Geraerts directly .