Poultry Lighting

Bottom line, winter lighting keeps laying flocks laying in winter. But have you actually done the math on how much light you need?

Laying hens should have 10-30 lux for laying, what does that mean…in general  it would be enough to read a newspaper at bird level. You can find conversion calculators online to convert lux, lumens and candle-foot. I ran some calculations for 25 lux ( on the brighter end…at the end of the day we realize that electricity is still cheaper than well fed hens that don’t lay eggs).

Helpful Estimates for a  14’ x 48’ tunnel (672 square feet), about 400 layers
For 60 watt equivalent bulbs (13-18 on the compact fluorescent scale) = about 2.1- 2.2  bulbs, so shoot for 3.  For 75- 100 watt (18-22 on the CFL scale )= ~1.15 bulbs bulbs, so 1 or 2 should be a good number.

What if you have not put your layers on lights yet? You have likely already seen the drop in production. Older birds may be going into a molt phase. If you want to bring them back in production you’ll want to get the lights back up to 16 hrs per day. To do this, drop the lights to 12 hrs and increase back to 16 at the rate of about 15-20 min each week so the birds think it is springtime again.

UConn Poultry Specialist Michael Darre has lot’s of poultry resources on his website. Here is some interesting information about the types of light that impact poultry production: “…From these observations it has been reported that blue light has a calming effect on birds, however, red has been used to reduce cannibalism and feather picking. It has also been shown that blue-green light stimulates growth in chickens while orange-red stimulates reproduction.” Read more at:








About Mark Cannella

Mark is a farm business management specialist with UVM Extension based in Berlin, VT. He specializes in business planning, farm financial analysis and agricultural economics.
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