Swine Science

The Science of Swine Lighting

It’s a big responsibility to successfully raise swine. Between keeping the animals healthy and virus free, while providing excellent pig care, it can be difficult to obtain optimal results turn after turn. At ONCE® we understand the challenges and are here to help.

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.

Swine see differently

The spectral characteristics, as well as the intensity, affect how light is perceived. What we see is made up of light reflected from the objects we look at. The Photopic Spectral Response Graphs demonstrate how most humans, who have three visual cones, see green and yellow colors more intensely than they see blue and red.

Swine see colors much more subdued than humans do. They have two pigment cones and can only see two distinct colors, blue and green, with the highest sensitivity being green light. The How Swine See graph shows that pigs’ eyes are least sensitive to the color red – they barely see it at all.

Learn more about The Science of Swine Vision.

Improve Animal Welfare

As the first company to pioneer animal lighting systems based on scientific research, we’ve developed innovative solutions that improve both production and animal welfare. Our scientific discoveries have not been simple, but our relentless effort to unlock the potential of light has revolutionized the industry to where it is today.

An animals’ habitat was meant to be outside

There are two major forms of domestic pigs, a European wild boar (Sus scrofa) and an Asian wild board (Sus indicus), however it is well documented that Asian pigs were used to improve European pig breeds during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Where swine originate is relevant to an animals’ natural habitat, which was meant to be outside. More specifically, the natural habitat of wild pigs is covered foliage and in natural settings, pigs are termed “crepuscular” in behavior — being active in the early morning and late evening (Lewis & Southern, 2001). Knowing this, we can create an enhanced natural environment where photoperiods are not as drastic and light intensities and spectrum are similar to what they originally experienced and perform best at.

Significance of Light on Swine

The Importance of Light Color

Pigs have dichromatic vision; in the pig’s eye there are two sets of cones that give the animal peak wavelength sensitivity at 439 nm (blue color) and 556 nm (green color). The photoreceptors in a pig’s eye cannot detect the color red (>650 nm). Past research indicates that in order to get a physiological response from domestic pigs, the light exposure for “daylight” should be within the light spectrum of 380 to 580 nm.

Recommendations for Light Intensity

Research by Tast et al. (2002) found in pigs there was a melatonin response to light at intensity as low as 40 lux. When changing abruptly from short to long days however, Tast suggested higher intensities (> 240 lux) be used to suppress the established melatonin rhythms. It is important to note that Tast’s scotophase (levels of light during the night phase) was 7 lux , since light during the night phase must also be considered in lighting programs for boars.

Significance of Photoperiod

Photoperiods can be separated into three components 1) length of time there is illumination in a 24- hour cycle (photoperiod length); 2) the direction (increasing or decreasing) of change over time in the illumination period; and 3) the time increments involved in the change of illumination over a specific time.

Findings for gilt development and gestation lighting shows that a daily photoperiod of 12 to 18 hours in length followed by a period of at least 6 hours darkness (red) is most beneficial, while 15 to 18 hours is recommended for farrowing room lighting. Lighting for nursery and finishing rooms recommend 8 hours of complete darkness, with a 30-minute sunrise/sunset simulation to reduce stress caused by the abrupt change from dark to light and vice versa.

Learn more about the three components in The Science of Swine Vision white paper, a PDF download

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.

Durable and Lasting Product Design

ONCE® uses techniques and materials that withstand harsh barn environment for years to come. Our products are made with a Built For Your Barn® design, meaning they’re made to last when regullarly exposed to dirt and dust, high-pressure wash-downs and corrosive vapors, including ammonia.

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