Is Your Barn So Dark You Can’t See the Money You Left Behind?
For many years now studies from prominent universities and organizations have existed, touting the benefits of Long Day Lighting. Yet to find a herd managed in this format is rare to find. Are you flicking the switch off to save pennies in hydro, but losing dollars in production?
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Long Day Lighting
Long Day Lighting is when you manage your barn’s lighting to operate on a “Long Day Photoperiod” so that lights are on for 16 to 18 hours daily and operating with 15 to 20 foot-candles. Alternatively for 6 to 8 hours the barn is provided with complete darkness, less than 1 foot-candle. While many barns provide night lighting – research shows that cows can find their away around in the dark.
Research Results from Long Day Photoperiod
- Lactating herd will respond in about 2 to 4 weeks and average milk production increase averaged 8 to 10%
- Livestock will respond with an increase of dry matter intake.
- Young livestock will mature faster, increased growth and reproduction.
- First lactation cows are more productive and cycle back into calf with ease.
Short Day Lighting
Short day lighting is the opposite cycle where the light operates on a “Short Day Photoperiod”. In this operation cycle, the lights are on for 8 hours daily operating at 15 to 20 foot-candles. But then the lights are off for 16 hour period (12 hour minimum) providing complete darkness, ideally at less than 1 foot-candle.
Research Results from Short Day Photoperiod
- Dry cows welcome and seek dark portions
- Dry cows build better resistance to new infection
- Cows that have a short day photoperiod, better respond to Long Day Photoperiod in their next lactation
LED Lighting The Natural Fit to Long Day Lighting
When you consider changing to Long Day Lighting management in your dairy the change or decision to utilize LED lights becomes very logical for several key reasons:
- A Long Day Lighting program requires keeping the switch on longer. Thus when LED Lighting operates at 60 to 80% less hydro, the decision becomes to utilize LED quickly offers an ROI.
- Longer operation of lights means that the bulb replacement in traditional lights – incandescent, metal halide or fluorescent – now occurs sooner. This increases the cost of operation and requires additional labour to complete.
- Creating a barn with a Long Day Photoperiod and a Short Day Photoperiod is easier to complete with LED lights. LED lights are a more directional beam in nature allowing for natural zone devisions simply based on fixture locations and their zoning. No walls or screens required for light zones. This could not be completed with traditional lighting .
“Generally, a new lighting system will pay for itself within 6 months to 1 year… the increase in feed costs will be significantly less than the increase in revenue from milk.”
Managing Light in Dairy Barns for Increased Milk Production
by A. Buyserie, M. Gamroth; and G. Dahl.