The small study was carried out by researchers from SRUC, in conjunction with lighting manufacturers KEW LEDs. It was funded by a grant from the government’s Innovate UK Technology Strategy Board.
Tungsten (and fluorescent) lights are being superseded by more efficient technology such as low-emitting diodes (LEDs), however their effects on livestock are unknown. Researchers investigated if there were major differences in broiler performance and welfare under 4000K cool, 3000K warm, and 3500K plain (‘neutral’) white LEDs (LC, LW, LN respectively) or tungsten incandescent (T) lighting.
Dr. Victoria Sandilands, Senior Behavior and Welfare Scientist with SRUC’s Avian Science Centre, said: “Birds exposed to LED lights showed more comfort behaviors (4.4 percent) such as preening and dustbathing than birds under tungsten lighting (2.9 percent), whereas tungsten birds sat slightly more (75.6 percent) than LED birds (72.5 percent). This might be viewed as a positive outcome of LED lights as they appear to promote positive behavior and less inactivity.”
Body weights were not significantly affected by lighting treatment at any age, neither was food conversion ratio. Hock and foot pad lesions remained low throughout the study, and lighting appeared to have no effect. Gait scores (an indicator of how well a chicken can walk) gradually worsened with bird age as expected, but also without apparent lighting effects.