As with any building, barns can use a mix of natural and artificial light to create an environment that is safe, efficient, and comfortable. But when we start getting into the nitty-gritty of keeping live animals, lighting designs and layouts can get somewhat complicated. The right balance of artificial and natural light should regulate biorhythms, keep farmers and vets safe, and prevent heat and cold pockets from forming around the barn. Today, we’re breaking down the best practices for barn light design. Stay tuned until the end, where we’ll get specific about the needs of livestock, chickens, and more.
Barn Lighting for Your Own Personal Safety
Simple overhead lighting may work for making your way down the hall for a glass of milk at night. But when it comes to lighting a livestock barn adequately, there’s more to consider. Not only do you want enough light to ensure that you’re not tripping overrakes, shovels, and buckets. You also need to find angles and shadows.
Walk around lighting: Simple fluorescent fixtures overhead will be enough to complete your everyday to-dos like feeding and watering. You can stand to use less wattage for these lights, as you only really need enough light to get from point A to point B safely. But exclusively using overhead lighting will cast shadows under larger livestock or within holding stalls.
Task lighting: Milking, grooming, cleaning, and veterinary responsibilities will require higher wattage bulbs at a variety of angles. Many barns are designed with transparent walls or polycarbonate windows to allow soft light in from side angles. However, high-efficiency compact fluorescent lights should still be mounted to corners and wall edges.
Energy Efficient Lighting Schemes for Barns
Motion sensors and light timers are a great way to reduce energy waste in barns, improving both your bottom line and your impact on the environment. These functions should be used in tool rooms, feed rooms, and office areas where only you would go—no need to have horses tripping the sensors all night long.
Lighting Schemes to Improve Livestock Efficiency
Livestock is susceptible to the rhythms of the sun rising and setting. They have a similar circadian rhythm to humans. During the light of day, they are high energy and productive, and as the sun goes down, they are more apt to rest. So, naturally, you’ll see more milk and egg production during the seasons with more daylight hours.
During the summer months, natural light through skylights, transparent roofs, and polycarbonate windows can make the best use of daylight hours for maximum productivity while still maintaining a controlled environment within the barn. But when winter rolls around, artificial lighting schemes will need to be used to support those levels of production. On average, your livestock will need about 16 hours of light and 8 hours of dark for the perfect balance of productivity and healthy rest.
Lighting Schemes for Productive Chicken Coops
Chickens use light for more than just sight. The intensity and duration of the light can impact both their circadian rhythms and hormone production. So, when designing a prefabricated metal chicken coop, a great deal, more thought will likely go into the lighting scheme. For artificial light, you’ll need to take into account wattage, rated life, and color temperature.
- Color Temperature: Studies have shown that blue light has a calming effect on birds, and red light can reduce habits like cannibalism and feather picking. Other studies show that blue-green light stimulated growth, whereas orange-red light stimulates production. To choose the proper lighting scheme for your chicken coop, you’ll need to get clear on your goals. Are you in it for meat or egg production? Will you need to section off areas of the barn for both?
- Intensity and bulb life: when it comes to raising both chickens and eggs, consistency is critical. You should never be lowering the intensity or duration of the light during the growth period. Do your research to ensure that the artificial light that you choose will provide consistent power throughout the growth period.
As for natural light, you might find it’s better to use less of it for poultry barns. Windows will need to be carefully placed on maintaining the controlled light flow throughout the barn. For example, allowing light to shine directly onto cages or on the floor can create light and dark zones in the barn, disrupting hormone production, and wake/sleep cycles. If you do choose to use natural light through windows in your prefabricated metal poultry barn, be sure to opt for translucent light panels, and use deflector discs to maintain a soft, glowing light within the barn.
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