LED LIGHTING is what most farmers will install when fitting out new-build poultry units or undertaking a refurbishment.

The first consideration for many is cost – LED systems use far less electricity, and bulbs are commonly far longer lasting than alternatives.

See also: How Crown Chicken moved to 100% on-farm-hatching

But understanding how birds perceive light in their environment, interact with it, and how it can impact welfare and performance is critical before choosing a system, according to Greengage business development manager Glynn Kent.

From their base close to Edinburgh, Scotland, they have designed and manufactured the Agricultural Lighting Induction System (ALIS) LED lighting with poultry production in mind.

Performance improvements

Mr Kent says that research has found significant benefits to farmers’ margins after installing LED systems – one UK-based trial saw a 0.87p/kg improvement to gross margins in broilers compared with fluorescent tubes.

Academic work with laying hens has suggested the right lighting system can lift production by 38 eggs per hen.

Frequently asked questions about poultry lighting

What sort of light do chickens need?

Poultry perceive light very differently from humans – they have a greater sensitivity to colours and vision on the ultraviolet spectrum. How much of each colour, the intensity of light and the length lights are on will all influence production.

What are the primary considerations when choosing lighting in a poultry shed?

Think about the spectrum of light that a bird perceives, the evenness of lighting across the floor and any equipment and the durability of the system. Eliminating dark spots where possible is also essential.

What type of light do broilers prefer?

Broilers perform best with a warm white light with more wavelengths of blue light keeping birds calm

What type of light do laying hens require?

Layers benefit from a warm white light with wavelengths of red light – although some research has shown red light causes aggression, there has also been work to show it can improve sexual maturity and egg production rates. The ability to dim lights effectively can help encourage birds to nest boxes and reduce floor eggs.

A poultry-specific lighting system

Greengage’s ALIS system is novel in that electrical current is turned into a wavelength that allows induction transfer to power the lights.

Mains alternating current is converted from 50 to 60Hz into a high-frequency alternating current (HFAC) at 50kHz by 200W and 500W power hubs.

This wavelength powers the LED lights, and is far more efficient in energy usage, says Mr Kent.

In addition, through induction, the copper coiled Bus cable, twisted in such a way that magnetic and electrical interference is cancelled out, is not cut or pierced for the length of the shed, making it more suited to wet and dusty environments.

And the lighting units and sensors themselves are sealed so that, during turnaround, they can be washed effectively.

Fitting an LED system

LED lighting systems range in price and cost of installation: “A standard LED system plus installation in a typical broiler shed would cost £5,500 – £6,000, taking around four to five days to install,” says Mr Kent. “An induction LED system plus installation would be £8,500-£9,000, taking around two days to install.”

Agri Electrical and Security, an electrical installer that specialises in fitting the ALIS systems, says that they can get the new systems into sheds during turnaround in minimal time.

While the only element that requires an electrician is connecting the power hubs and certifying them, they offer a full installation service.

“We try and do it as quickly as we can. If a farm has a six-day turnaround, we can only go in from day two. So we would prefer to do a long day and be finished by lunchtime the next day,” says director James Anstis-Smith.

How is an ALIS LED lighting system installed on poultry farms?

How is an ALIS LED lighting system installed on poultry farms?

  1. Shed assessment

    First, a farm is assessed for the number of lights needed to light the space properly.

  2. Ante rooms

    Control rooms are assessed to see if the power hubs will fit. If not, they can be fitted inside the shed.

  3. Support wiring

    Catenary steel wiring is installed for each line of lighting necessary, with the system cable attached.

  4. Lighting installed

    Lighting units and sensors clip on to the cable and draw electricity through induction.

  5. Wiring

    It is often recommended that the lighting is wired with a new connection, and the new circuit will need to be certified by a qualified electrician.

Return on investment

The below table is a case study of a UK broiler farm that switched from HF Fluorescent tubes to ALIS LEDs.

 Conventional HF Fluorescent tubesALIS LEDs
Average house lighting needs45x 58W120x 11W
Energy load2.61KW1.32KW
Average lifetime10,000 hours100,000 hours
Average hours of use per 40-day flock640 hours (16 hours per day x 40 days)640 hours
Chick placement per shed35,00035,000
Mortality (birds per flock)875875
40-day running cost at 15p/kWh£250.56£126.72
Total hours usage per year4,480 hours4,480 hours
Annual energy cost for lighting (seven flocks per year)£1,753.92£887.04  
Average chick weight at seven days190g194g
Average kill weight2,600g2,625g
Financial gain1.87p/bird = £638.14 per flock
Initial investment£2400 plus £1800 install  £6,700 plus £2,100 installation
Annual savings from bird performance and energy reduction– £5,354.00
ROI – Under 2 years
Source: Greengage