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Significance of Light in Poultry Production: A Review

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Abstract

Lighting is an essential for development and functioning of reproductive system and growth. It is a powerful exogenous factor in control of many physiological and behavioral processes. Cold Cathode and Fluorescent bulbs are mostly used as light and it affected by variables like lamp type, reflectance of the floor, walls, ceiling and height intensity of affect. incandescent or fluorescent lights may be used. Lighting patterns for broilers are aimed for stimulating and controlling feed intake. Light as an environmental factor consists of three different aspects like intensity, duration, and wavelength. Broiler behavior is affected by light intensity. Lighting duration is largely dependent upon the age of chickens involved and type of housing in use. Colour of light dictated by wavelength and it exerts variable effects on poultry performance. Darkness is an important to growth and health of broilers as light. It is hypothesized that short photoperiods early in life will reduce feed intake and limit growth.
1154 Advances in Life Sciences 5(4), 2016
REVIEW PAPER
Significance of Light in Poultry Production: A Review
S. J. PATEL1, A. S. PATEL2, M. D. PATEL1 AND J. H. PATEL1
Kankuba Pashupalan Vidyapith, Ganpat University, Ganpat Vidyanagar 1
College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, AAU, Anand2
email: sanketpatel.vets@gmail.com
ABSTRACT
Lighti ng is an essential for devel opment and
functioning of reproductive system and growth. It is a
powerful exogenous factor in control of many
physiological and behavioral processes. Cold Cathode
and Fluorescent bulbs are mostly used as light and it
affected by variables like lamp type, reflectance of the
floor, walls, ceiling and height intensity of affect.
incandescent or fluorescent lights may be used.
Lighting patterns for broilers are aimed for
stimulating and controlling feed intake. Light as an
environmental factor consists of three different
aspects like intensity, duration, and wavelength.
Broiler behavior is affected by light intensity. Lighting
duration is largely dependent upon the age of chickens
involved and type of housing in use. Colour of light
dictated by wavelength and it exerts variable effects
on poultry performance. Darkness is an important to
growth and he al th of broi le rs as light. It is
hypothesized that short photoperiods early in life will
reduce feed intake and limit growth.
Key words Broiler, duration, light, lighting and
poultry.
Lighting is an e ssentia l component of
successful commercial poultry production. With
laying birds (including breeders) light is significant
in the development and functioning of the bird’s
reproductive system, influencing the age when she
starts laying and how many eggs are laid in a given
period. The patt ern of cha nging day lengt h
experienced by birds influences them in two ways:
1. Increasing natural day length, as occurs in
spring, accelerates sexual maturity of growing
pullets and stimulates egg production during
the laying period.
2. Decreasing day length, as occurs in autumn,
retards sexual maturity of growing pullets and
restrains egg production. Consequently it is
the changing pattern of light received by the
birds which influences them rather than the
duration of the lighting pattern. For example,
pullets reared on a constant 16-hour day will
mature at about the same age as those reared
on a constant 8-hour day. The birds in the
16-hour program will have received more total
light, but are experiencing the same lighting
pattern as those in the 8-hour program, that
is, a constant-light pattern. Supplementary
artificial light is a commercial necessity in
order to maximize egg production.
Importance of Lights
Recent developments in light bulb technology
now make it a good business decision to with
energy-efficient Cold Cathode (CC) and Compact
Fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, which are much more
cost-effective. Light intensity is affected by many
variables: lamp type (i.e., incandescent versus
fluorescent, versus high pressure sodium, versus
metal halide, versus low pressure sodium, etc.);
reflectance of the floor, walls, ceiling; height of
the lamp fixture above the working plane; dirty
conditions, and maint ena nce schedul e.
Incandescent or fluorescent fixtures are the most
common in poultry facilities.
Lighting program for laying birds
The aim of any lighting program for layers is
to supplement the varying natural daylight so that
an even pattern of total light is received throughout
the year.
Lighting program for broiler birds
Lighting patterns for broilers are aimed mainly
at stimulating and controlling feed intake. Two
programs are commonly used: a) Continuous
li gh ting except f or 1 hour of darknes s , b)
Intermittent lighting of 2 hours on, 2 hours off.
Advances in Life Sciences 5(4), Print : ISSN 2278-3849, 1154-1160, 2016
PATEL et al., Significance of Light in Poultry Production: A Review 1155
Light Sources and Their Efficiencies
will reduce running costs significantly, but are more
expensive to purchase. As with normal fluorescent
installations these represent a long- term investment,
and are particularly suitable for converting existing
incandescent lighting to a fluorescent system
without changing any fittings. The conversion to
fluorescent bulbs is a cost- efficient proposition as
the savings in running costs soon outweigh the extra
cost of the fluorescent globes.
Review of Literature
Lighting is a powerful exogenous factor in
control of many physiological and behaviora l
processes. Light may be the most critical of all
environmental factors to birds. It is integral to sight,
including both visual acuity and color discrimination
(Manser, 1996). Light allows the bird to establish
rhythmicity and synchroni ze many essenti al
functions, including body temperature and various
metabolic steps that facilitate feeding and digestion.
Of equal importance, light stimulates secretory
patterns of several hormones that control, in large
part, growth, matur a tion, and reprodu cti on.
Globally, chickens are rea red in a var iety of
production syste ms. These inc lude outdoor
enclosures that basically utilize natural climatic
conditions, production house of various sizes and
construction that have little to extensive control
over light and other environmental factors, and very
large homogeneous houses that allow precise
control of environmental factor s, incl uding
temperature, humidity, air velocity, rate of air
exchange, gases, light intensity, duration and color.
Increased environmental complexity in poultry
rearing facilities is recognized as a means to achieve
productivity goals and to resolve welfare concerns
(Newberry, 1995; Wemels felder and Birke, 1997;
Lighting schedules and intensities
Bird type Lighting
Young chickens
(1–5 days)
24 hours constant light at 40 lux minimum with 5–60 minutes blackout training
Young chickens
(6–10 days old)
23 hours constant light at 30 lux
Pullets 15 hours constant light at 5 lux
Layers 15 hours constant light at 10 lux
Broilers 23 hours constant light at 40 lux 1–5 days, then 23 hours constant light at 3–5 lux, or
alternate 2 hours light at 5 lux, 2 hours dark
Ducks and geese 15 hours constant light at 10 lux
Pheasant breeders 15 hours constant light at 10 lux from January to end of breeding season (about April)
Note: Lux is the unit of illumination and measures the amount of light per square metre. 50 lux is about the brightness of an
average lounge room.
Lighting Programmes for Other Functions
Other Functions Light Intensity Lux (foot-
candles)
Feed storage/
processing
100-200 (10-20)
Barn inspection/
cleaning
50 (5)
Egg handling 500 (50)
Egg processing 700-1000 (70-100)
Office (desk surface) 400-500 (40-50)
Shop (rough bench
work)
500 (50)
Shop (detailed bench
work)
1000 (100)
Lamp Type Efficiency Lumens per
Watt
Incandescent 10-20
Mercury vapour 20-60
Fluorescent 40-100
Metal helide 50-110
High pressure sodium 50-140
Types of lights
Either incandescent or fluorescent lights may
be used. Commercially, fluorescent lights are a
cheaper long-term proposition because of their
greater light efficiency and low maintenance and
running costs. However, installation costs are
higher. Another alternative is to use fluorescent
globes which fit into normal batten holders used
for incandescent globes. These fluorescent globes
1156 Advances in Life Sciences 5(4), 2016
Mench, 1998). Light as an environmental factor
consists of thr ee different aspec ts: int ensity,
duration, and wavelength. Light intensity, color, and
the photoperiodic regime can affect the physical
activity of broiler chickens (Lewis and Morris,
1998). The increased in physical activity can
stimulate bone development, thereby improve the
leg health of birds. Each of these aspects will be
discussed relative to rearing broilers. Houses with
dark curtains or solid sidewalls allow the producer
to establish lighting systems that control intensity,
duration, and wavelength throughout the entire
grow-out period.
The genetic potentiality of broilers would not
beutilized fully due to environmental constraint.
Therefore,an improvement of the production and
its efficiency solely depends on the quality of the
environmental management. There is little question
that light is crucial to incidences of diseases
attributed to fast growth.Decreased photoperiods
are reported to decrease susceptibility to metabolic
diseases such as ascites associated with pulmonary
hypertension syndrome, sudden death syndrome,
tibial dyschondroplasia and other skeletal disorders
(Classen and Riddell, 1989; Classen et al., 1991;
Rendenet al., 1991; Peteket al.,2005). Additionally,
intermittent lighting programs canreduce lameness
and circulatory problems in broilersand roasters
(Buckland, 1975; Ononiwu et al., 1979;Simmons,
1982; Wilson et al., 1984; Renden et al.,1991,
Kritensen et al . , 2004 ) . Beha vioral
evaluationsutilizing radar equipment have revealed
that broilersexposed to intermittent lighting are more
active duringthe light periods (Simmons, 1982;
Simmons and Haye,1985). Finally, intermittent
lighting programs have shownincreased livability
and decreased leg problems,mortality and incidence
of circulatory diseases (Ononiwu et al., 1979;
Classen and Riddell, 1989) .Since broilers are
commonly reared in dimand near- continuous
lighting, it is possible that a largenumber of birds in
commercial production may sufferfrom light-
induced changes in eye morphology. Research
indicates the extremely low light intensities (less
than 5 l x ) can ca use r etin al degener a t ion,
buphthalmos, myopia, glaucoma and damage to
thel ens leading to blindnes s (B uyse et al.,
1996;Cummings et al., 1986; Ashton et al., 1973;
Chiu et al., 1975; Li et al., 1995). Preference
studies, i.e., providing birds with choices ofseveral
lighting int ensi ties have shown that broilers
willexhibit preference for light intensity by 6 wk of
age. Youngchick (1 to 28 days of age) generally
preferred brighter light(~20 lx) (Berk, 1995).
Another preference study showedthat broilers
preferred blue or green light over red or white light
(Prayitno et al., 1997).
Lighting intensity
Broiler behavior is strongly affected by light
intensity. Generally, brighter light will foster
increa sed activity, while lower intensities are
effective in controlling aggressive acts that can lead
to cannibalism. Producers regularly use modern
electronic systems to increase light intensity for
short periods during grow-out to increase exercise
and thereby reduce skeletal and metabolic disorders.
Newberry et al. (1985) reported increased activity
in brighter (6 to 12 lx) vs. darker (0.5 lx) areas
within pens. It should be noted that in this study
the chicks were subjected to changes in light
intensity over time. A subsequent study, Newberry
et a l. (1986 ) used const a nt light i nt ensity
treatments that ranged from 0.1 to 100 lx. Results
suggested that as light intensity increased, activity
was decreased with each incremental increase in
age. Charles et al. (1992) observed an increase in
BW when broilers were grown under a light
intensity of 5 lx. Low intensities have been
associated with reduced walking and standing, as
well as with decreased incidences of fighting,
feather pecking and cannibalism (Buyse et al.,
1996). Field studies have generally shown that
higher light intensities (in excess of 5 lx) decrease
body weight due to increased activity. These studies
indicated a reduction in the incidence of skeletal
disorders such as tibial dyschondropla sia and
enlarged hocks. Most modern lighting programs
begin with a high lightintensity (~20 lx) that is
decreased to around 5 lx by 14 to 21 days and then
maintained at 5 lx or less for the remainder of the
grow - out per iod. Such pr ograms have been
implicated in structural changes in eye morphology.
Since broilers are commonly reared in dim and near-
continuous lighting, it is possible that a large number
of birds in commercial production may suffer from
light-induced changes in eye morphology.
Light duration
Lighting duration, i.e., photoperiod, is the
second major aspect of light that will alter broiler
performance. Mos t rese a rch invol ving li ght
management has focused on this factor. Different
photoperiodicregimes have been applied and tested
over the years,while almost all of them have been
shown to improvebroiler welfare with conventional
PATEL et al., Significance of Light in Poultry Production: A Review 1157
near-continuouslighting (Gordon, 1994). Lighting
duration is largely dependent upon the age of
chickens involved and type ofhousing in use.
Research and discussion continue inan attempt to
define the optimal photoperiodic regimesuitable for
broiler chickens. However, results to datesuggest
an absolute minimum uninterrupted darkperiod of
4 hours should be given, but the requirementsfor
sleep may be higher at certain points of the growing
period (Blokhuis, 1983).
Darknes s
Broiler lighting schedules can be characterized
in a number of ways, including the numberof hours
of darkness and how many periods of darkness
areincluded in each 24 h cycle. Research has shown
that darkness is as important to growth and health
of broilers as light (Classen et al., 1991). It is
hypothesized that short photoperiods early in life
will reduce feed intake and limit growth. Recent
research comparing 12L:12D, 16L:8D and 20L:4D
lighting schedules demonstratedclearly that longer
periods of darkness prevent regular access to feed
and consequently reduce feed intake and limit
growth (Classen, 2004a). Furthermore, Classen et
al. (2004b) also compared lighting programs with
12 hof darkness per each 24 h period provided in
1, 6, or 12h intervals. Their study indicated that
early growth ratewas significantly reduced by
longer periods of darkness,but gain from 14 to 35
d, as well as final body weightwere not affected
by lighting programs. Feedconversions were higher
for 12L:12D and two 6L:6Dperiods per each 24 h
period than 12 (1L:1D) periodsper each 24 h period.
The 12L:12D treatment resulted inlower mortality
than the 12 (1L:1D) treatment and the 2(6L:6D)
was intermediate.
Constant light
When photoperiod is maintained at a constant
level throughout the growth cycle of broiler
chickens, shorter the length is associated with
slower growth (Li et al., 1995). The slower growth
rate is areflection of reduced feed intake associated
with shorterdays and reduced leg abnormalities
(Gordon, 1994). If given a choice, chickens prefer
to eat during the photoperiod,although they will eat
during darkness if insufficient periods of lightare
provided (Simmons, 1982). The length of day
required to reduce growth rate has not been defined.
Continuous light disrupts the diurnal rhythm and
has some welfare concerns. Among those are high
prevalence of leg and skeletal disorders in poultry
(Sanotra et al., 2001, 2002) and affected birdsmay
even experience difficulty in getting to feed and
water (Wong-Valle et al., 1993).
Intermittent lighting
Research on intermittent lightinghas been
extensive but complicated by a wide variety of light-
dark cycles and management systems. However,
inter mittent lighting programs have frequently
resul ted in super ior broi ler productivity in
comparison to constant light (Classen, 2004a;
Rahimi et al., 2005). In addition,intermittent lighting
frequently reduces the incidence of leg disorders
and has also been shown to reduce sudden death
syndrome (Buckland, 1975; Simmons, 1986;
Classen and Riddel, 1989).
Color of light
Color is the third major aspect of light. It is
dictated by wavelength and it exerts variable effects
on poultry performance. None of the commonly
used typesof fluorescent light emits appreciable
amounts ofultraviolet A light (UVA, 320-400 nm).
Daylight has arelatively even distribution of
wavelengths between 400 and 700 nm. Birds sense
light through their eyes(retinal photoreceptors) and
through photosensitive cellsin the brain (extra-
retinal photoreceptors). Blue light hasa calming
effe ct on birds, while re d will e nhance
featherpecking and cannibalism. Blue-green light
stimulatesgrowth in chickens, while orange-red
stimulates reproduction (Rozenboim et al., 1999;
2004). Light ofdifferent wavelengths has varying
stimulatory effects on the retina and can result in
behavioural changes that will affect growth and
development (Lewis and Morris, 2000).There are
four kinds of lamps available to poultryproducers:
incandescent, fluorescent, metal halide andhigh-
pressure sodium. All four types are in use in
poultryfacilities for laying hens, breeder flocks,
broilers andturkeys. The incandescent bulb is the
current standardby which others are compared,
especially in broilerproduction. Incandescent bulbs
provide light energy butmuch of it is electrical
energy with a light efficiency ofabout 8-24 lumens
per watt and a rated life of about 750-2000 h (Darre
and Rock, 1995). Fluorescent lamps maylast more
than 20,000 h under poultry house conditionsand
may decrease their light output by about 20-30
%over their lifetime (Darre, 1986). High pressure
sodiumlamps release an electric current through a
high level ofsodium vapor producing energy, but
the highest intensityis in the yellow, orange and red
1158 Advances in Life Sciences 5(4), 2016
regions with longestrated life of all lamps at about
24,000 h (Dare and Rock,1995; Darre, 2005). They
require a warm up time ofbetween 5 and 15 min,
which indicates that after apower outage, backup
lighting may be necessary untilfull illumination has
been achieved. Metal halide lampshave between 32
and 1,500 watts with three differentouter bulb
finishes: clear, phosphor and diffuse (Darre,2005)
with light across the entire visible spectrum, theyare
considered a cool light, having a lot of blue.
Theyhave between 80 and 100 lumens per watt
and are ratedat about 10,000 to 20,500 h of life
(Darre, 2005). Theselamps also have a warm up
period of 5 to 15 min to achieve full illumination.
The four most important visual abilities of poultry
are spectral and flicke r sensitivities as well
asaccommodation and acuity (Prescott and Wattes,
1999). Domestic fowl have a number of adaptations
to theircolor apparatus not shared by humans. They
possessthree photoreceptors compared with just
two (rods andcones) receptors in humans (King-
Smith, 1971). Theadditional photoreceptor is a
double cone, but itsfunction is not clear, though it
does respond to incidentlight. Birds have four photo
reactive pigments associatedwith cone cell that are
responsible for photonic colorvision, while humans
have only three pigments(Yoshizawa, 1992). The
pigments in bird cones aremaximally sensitive at
wavelengths of 415, 455, 508 and571 nm, while
thos e of huma ns a re max imally se nsi tiveto
wavelengths of 419, 531 and 558 nm (Dartnall et
al.,1983). In birds, the proportion of the different
cone celltypes also varies on the retinal surface.
Birds possesscolored oil droplets in their cone cells
such that incidentlight is filtered before it reaches
the photoreactive pigments. These droplets are
associ ated with individualcone cell species
(Bowmaker and Knowles, 1977). Theability of
chickens to visua lize color is similar to that
ofhumans, but they cannot see as well when
exposed toshort wavelengths (blue-green). Specific
lightwavelength may have an impact on production
andcharacteristics of broilers. During the early
period, shortwa velengths appear to stimulate
growth. However, whenthe bird approaches the
time of sexual maturity longwavelengths (orange-
red) increase growth and areeffective in stimulating
sexual hormonal pathways thatculminate in fertile
egg production. Growth in broilers is affected by
light spectra. Broilersunder blue or green light
become significantly heavierthan those reared under
red or white light (Rozenboim et al., 2004). Green
light accelerates muscle growth(Halevy et al.,
1998) and stimulates growth at an earlyage, whereas
blue ligh t stimulat es growt h in old er
birds(Rozenboim et al., 1999 a,b; 2004) . In
addi t ion,circulating thyroid hormones i.e.
triiodothronine (T3) and thyroxin (T4) are important
growth promoters (McNabband King, 1993) and
play a relatively important role ingrowth inhibition
as well as compensatory growthacceleration in
broilers (Yahav, 1999). Researchcompleted to date
is not sufficient to permit therecommendation of
blue light throughout the productioncycle of
broilers. However, recent studies show thatyoung
br oi ler s have a str ong preference for bright
light(Davis et al., 1997).
Points to remember
a) Regularly check operation of time clocks and
light fittings, especially after power failures.
b) Clean light fittings at least annually.
c) Keep time clock covers in place to prevent
dust and moisture clogging the mechanism.
d) Pullets should receive either a constant or
decreasing light pattern prior to laying.
e) Never let laying birds experience a decrease
in light pattern.
f) Use light levels specified for the type and age
of poultry housed.
g) Hours of day length have an important impact
on growth r a t e wi th the e ff ects b eing
dependent upon marketing age.
h) Providing broilers with 20 hours of light a
day gave the highest growth rate at all ages.
i) As birds age they are able to adapt to shorter
day lengths. Broilers marketed at older ages
perform relatively better on shorter day lengths
than birds marketed at younger ages.
j) Short day lengths (i.e. 14 hours of light) lead
to a reduced growth rate regardless of market
age.
k) Increasing day length to 23 hours a day also
has a negative impact on growth rate. The
data from this trial do not support the idea
that providing near constant light (23 hours)
will achieve the highest growth rates.
l) Feed efficiency is improved with decreasing
daylength (longer night periods); the best feed
efficiency occurred when broilers were given
14 hours of light regardless of market age.
m) This improvement in feed efficiency is not
due to differences in body-weight gain but
may be due to re duced mai nt enance
PATEL et al., Significance of Light in Poultry Production: A Review 1159
requi rements as a result of the l ower
metabolism that occurs during darkness.
Light management is an important component
of poultry production. Wavelength andintensity are
impor tant in be havior a l modification s
whileexposure of poultry to darkness is essential
to birdhealth. Light management is widely used to
improveproduction efficiency.Restricted lighting
pr ograms enha nce poultry pr oduction
throughimprovements in BW, FCR, immune status,
and betterhealth as a result. Much is known about
the effects of thelighting on production, but how
the welfare of the birdsmay be affected is lacking.
To assess this meaningfully,it is importa nt to
understand how birds perceive theirenvironment
and to quantify aspects of the physical light
environment, especially luminance and photo period
effects, on the functional development of the eye
andvision. These gaps in our understanding of
poultryresponses to the light environment must be
bridgedbefore we can explore meaningfully the
relationshipbetween lighting in poultry houses and
poultry well-being.
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Received on 06-02-2016 Accepted on 11-02-2016
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Poultry have four types of cone in the retina of the eye, and this means that they probably see colour differently from trichromatic humans. Notwith- standing the fact that humans and birds have maximum sensitivity in a similar part of the spectrum (545–575nm), poultry are likely to perceive light from various types of lamp at a different intensity from humans because they are more sensitive to the blue and red parts of the spectrum. Although colour has been confounded with illuminance in many trials, wavelength has an unquestionable effect on poultry production and behaviour. Growth and behaviour responses depend principally on retinal photoreception, whereas photosexual responses are mainly influenced by hypothalamic light reception. In turkeys and chickens growth under red illumination is inferior to that under blue or green light, and this may be a result of birds exposed to red light being more active and showing more aggression than birds exposed to shorter wavelength radiation. In contrast, the easier penetration of longer wavelength radiation to the hypothalamus makes red light more sexually stimulatory than blue or green, although the hypothalamic photo- receptors are more sensitive to blue/green light when illuminated directly. Egg production traits, however, appear to be minimally affected by wavelength.