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Red light means go, for increased egg production

LED light bulb significantly increases layer hen productivity

By David Jefferson, University of Guelph Agricultural Communications Student, for Farms.com

 

An innovative LED light bulb which significantly increases layer hen productivity has been developed by researchers at the University of Guelph.

The device, called the AgriLux, was developed by a team of researchers led by Prof. Grégoy Bédécarrats in the university’s Department of Poultry and Animal Science. The AgriLux is more energy efficient than the commonly used incandescent bulb.

As well, unlike other energy efficient bulbs, it emits red spectrum light which can increase estrogen production in chickens, which boosts egg production by up to three per cent.

The bulb is made with a one-piece aluminum design to resist dust and water. The 10 watt version costs $49 per bulb. Mikayla Baxter, a graduate student who worked on the project admits the bulb is costly. “But it will pay for itself after one year, and is guaranteed by the manufacturer for three years,” she says. As well, the expected overall life of the bulb is seven years.

The bulb pays for itself through energy savings and income generated from increased production. For example, a farm with 40,000 laying hens can produce an extra 300,000 eggs per year.

The bulbs’ unique design is also suited to withstand harsh barn environments including exposure to dust, humidity and ammonia. As well, it can endure repeated cleaning and disinfection cycles. Disinfection often involves the use of pressure washing and harsh detergents, which can reduce the life of a common incandescent bulb.

And for growers on a dusk-to dawn program, the bulb can be dimmer without flickering, a problem often reported with other energy efficient light bulbs used in production.

But there may be a downside. Increasing production without more feed uptake for the chickens has raised concerns regarding animal welfare.

Mikayla says she hasn’t seen that response, though. In fact, the chickens she’s seen in her research are very calm with this production approach.

“They were monitored for aggression and cortisol levels in the blood, and any increases, if found at all, were not statistically significant,” she says. Animal welfare is a big concern for producer and consumers alike, she adds, and was monitored throughout the experiment.

The bulb was co-designed at Thiess Electrical Distribution in Cambridge, Ontario, where it is currently available. The bulb is not yet sold in retail stores, but Mikayla hopes that will happen in the next few years.

 

This article is part of David’s course work for the University of Guelph agricultural communications course, instructed by Prof. Owen Roberts.


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