The importance of proper lighting in your dairy barn has long since been studied and proven. Over the years dozens of University and Industry studies have all came to very similar results - A Long Day Lighting Program (LDLP) is well worth the investment.
Here are 6 reasons why good lighting can help your herd performance.
1. Proper light levels will stimulate your cow's pineal gland, which releases melatonin and serotonin that regulates sleep and activity patterns. Light levels of 200lux for 16 hours during the day followed by levels of less than 50lux at night create a perfect circadian rhythm. Ideally, this should be the goal for any Long Day Lighting Program (LDLP).
2. Light stimulated cows following a LDLP will show an increase of about 8% in milk yield compared to those exposed to less than 16 hours of light per day.
3. Feed intake increases in a well-lit environment when properly stimulated with light. Ensuring high light levels at the bunk is especially important - do you like eating in the dark?
4. LDLP's have been proven to improve the overall reproductive performance of your herd. This is important not only for your milking herd, but also your replacement heifer's growth and development. Studies have shown many advantages when using a LDLP with your heifers including lowering the age of puberty by an average 1-month.
5. The light/dark cycle will help to decrease lameness due to prolonged lying times. While cows may be a little more active throughout the day, having a full 6 hour reset every night gives their legs and feet the rest they need to recharge and repair.
6. Being able to observe your herd under increased light levels will aid in finding any possible signs of ill health and promote the early application of remedies. You should be able to read a tag or neck strap number from at least 50' away anywhere in the barn with the only limitation being your eyesight - not the light levels.
As you look to provide every possible advantage to your herd and its growth in production do not discount how lighting can help you achieve that goal. Lighting affects many different aspects of a cow's productive life and it starts from a very early age. The future of your farm is bright - your barn should be too!