The Science of Layer and Breeder Lighting

There’s a science when it comes to successfully raising layers and breeders indoors. Between changing regulations, production costs and the unexpected, it’s difficult to obtain optimal results every flock. We understand the challenge and want to help you maintain consistent success.

The red spectrum

One of the main functions of red light is melatonin regulation and stimulation of reproductive activity. Melatonin enhances the immune response and counteracts immunodeficiency states resulting from acute stress, viral diseases, aging, or drug treatment.

The red spectrum is the only spectrum which stimulates a bird’s hypothalamic and pineal oscillators. This helps 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.

Species-specific technology

Dim-to-Red technology provides natural dawn and dusk simulation, reducing stress on your animals.

The effect of lighting indoors

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.

Poultry see light differently

The Typical Photopic Spectral Response Graphs below show how most humans, who have three visual cones, see green and yellow colors more intensely than they see blue and red. The Typical Fowl graph shows that chickens, who have four visual cones, are more sensitive to blue and red light. And what about the far left, smaller peak? It’s the UV spectrum. Chickens can see UV light, and humans cannot.

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 Welfare

By providing a natural sunrise and sunset simulation, our lighting systems eliminate extreme changes in light, eliminating multiple stress inputs and lowering mortality rates, while improving immune response. This is supported by blood assays for short and long term stress indicators, as well as behavioral stress tests.

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.

Encourage Desirable Behaviors

Artificial lighting programs can be a useful tool to direct desirable behaviors in poultry. For example, a full bright white light spectrum can reduce floor egg and piling issues, while layers under Dim-to-Red® technology are calmer, less prone to flight and notably less aggressive.

Improve egg production

ONCE® innovative technology provides uniform coverage and a consistent light pattern, as well as the sunrise and sunset functionality. This results in minimized corticosterone levels and other stress markers to improves layers’ productivity.

Studies show that hens housed under our species-specific lighting systems increased production by 8%, resulting in 28.6 more eggs over a 70-week laying cycle due to improved spectrum and light distribution when compared to regular CFL bulbs.

Reduce feed consumption

Evidence indicates that actual feed consumption per egg laid is reduced under red lighting, particularly with wavelength above 640nm resulting in no difference in egg size, shell weight and thickness, or yolk and albumen weights. This suggests that light with a peak around 640nm, with the intensity reduced to the minimum required for egg laying, can reduce feed intake.

Other research indicates very narrow wavelength red light may help in manipulating the size of eggs, if the operation intends to provide smaller eggs.

Promote sexual maturity

The hypothalamus is the reproductive controller of the hen. Contrary to what is believed, recognition of day length does not involve the eyes. The light response involves the stimulation of hypothalamic photosensitive cells by receiving light energy at photostimulation. That 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.

The role light plays

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.

Experience a Return-On-Investment

Based on photobiology and backed up by scientific research, we have become an industry leader by focusing our efforts on finding solutions that show proven, measurable results. These results leverage three key aspects of lighting needed to experience success when raising broilers: spectrum, intensity and photoperiod.

The right light recipe

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 achieve your goals.

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 light recipes and surge protectors as well. Contact someone on our team today to learn more about what the right light recipe can do for you.

A sustainable solution

LED lighting has become a favored choice because they deliver a sustainable and high energy savings solution when compared to traditional lighting sources such as incandescent or fluorescent lighting.

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