Pulsed light technology could improve layer welfare

Pulsed alternating wavelength light technology can increase layer productivity and welfare, leading to improvements in temperament, feed conversion and livability, as well as increased case weights

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StockPhoto30 | BigStock.com
StockPhoto30 | BigStock.com

Pulsed alternating wavelength light technology can increase layer productivity and welfare, leading to improvements in temperament, feed conversion and livability, as well as increased case weights

β€œBy reducing stress on the animals and focusing input energies on productivity this obviously aids in the profitability of the producer,” said Jason Suntych, COO and co-founder, Xiant Technologies.

How it works

The patented technology targets the underlying chromophores in poultry, which are the molecules in biology responsible for accepting light to give indications of time of day, seasonality and latitude to the animal.

The smart bulb technology can be customized to different recipes directed independently to pullet versus layer flocks. These recipes pulse light on the order of microseconds which is much faster than the ability of humans or animals to perceive it.  The result is a bulb which appears to be constantly on but is only on from one to 20% of the time.

Each bulb contains a microprocessor along with a wireless radio allowing the system to be controlled remotely and to assure that each bulb in a facility is in sync with all other bulbs down to the microsecond. 

Workers performing welfare checks in poultry houses with the system wear a specialized lanyard called a Firefly containing a small wireless radio. The bulbs in the system detect the proximity of the Firefly and transition to being constantly on allowing for a brighter environment and higher quality welfare checks.

Real world applications

The technology was rigorously tested on more than 3.5 million pullets and layers living in several commercial layer houses over the last two and a half years. Most notably, shifts in hen temperament were seen, a benefit as many facilities transition to cage-free production.

β€œAs we move into cage-free production, temperament becomes a bigger and bigger point, because as you control temperament, you help with feed conversion, layer behavior and where eggs are laid,” Brock Peterson, the former President of Opal Foods, explained.

β€œThe health and welfare of our flocks is of the utmost importance to us, and a lighting program is a very important component of an all-encompassing animal husbandry program. We have observed calmer bird behavior and improved welfare under the pulsing light bulbs compared to other LED lights using stress hormone levels and key production and welfare metrics as measuring parameters. Less stress is clearly much better for our birds and yields an improved overall well-being of our hens,” said Ryn Laster, Ph.D., Director of Food Safety and Animal Welfare, Cal-Maine Foods.

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