Brooding - Light management

by ANDREW BOURNE, broiler specialist – World Technical Support, Cobb-Vantress

The following is the final article in this series of articles on brooding essentials. All five aspects are equally important.

Light intensity is not always seen as an important factor in brooding, yet it is. Chick activity during the brooding period is the driver that ensures adequate feed and water consumption. Only then will the genetic potential of the broiler chick be realized. As emphasized in the previous four articles, without adequate temperature and good air quality, chick activity will be limited.

During brooding the light should be at the brightest to encourage activity to help chicks locate feed and water. Light systems should be installed with the ability to achieve a minimum of 25 lux (2.5 foot candles) or more at chick level.

Newly constructed housing should be able to achieve at least 40 lux (4 foot candles). The light systems in the modern broiler house should be dimmable. Post brooding, the light intensity should be reduced to between 5 & 10 lux (0.5 to 1 foot candle). When practising partial house brooding, maintain maximum light intensity until chicks have access to full house.

Research conducted by Brown, A, Fairchild, B D, Buhr, R J & Webster, A B (2007) on brooding light intensity and its effects on broiler performance found signifi cant evidence to suggest that too low light intensity during brooding (15 lux – 1.5 foot candle) will have negative results on broiler performance. Bodyweight gains were signifi cantly greater at 25 and 45 lux when compared to 15 lux.

There have been great advances in light bulb technology switching from incandescent to highly energy-effi cient compact fl uorescent bulbs (CFL’s). They have life spans of up to 10 times longer than the traditional incandescent bulbs. Reliable dimmable CFL bulbs are available in 15W (equivalent to the incandescent 70W) and 23W (equivalent to the incandescent 100W) and will use up to 25% less energy than the incandescent equivalents. Dimmable Cold Cathode (CC) and LED (light emitting diodes) are available but a signifi cantly higher cost.

The goal is to provide as high intensity as possible with even light distribution throughout the brood area to stimulate maximum consumption for achieving 7-day bodyweight targets. Inexpensive light meters are readily available and are an essential tool for the modern broiler grower.

Careful consideration of the five essentials driving early feed consumption and growth will help achieve the full least cost advantage provided by the Cobb500.

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