Let The Broilers’house Be Light
According to Dr. Rachel Lynn Dennis, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, adding windows to poultry houses is an inexpensive way to improve the broiler environment and potentially increase productivity.
Ultraviolet (UV) is part of natural light, and birds are used for social cues and feeding. However, she told Poultry Health Today that most traditional homes have no windows and only white light.
Dennis was curious about the effects of broilers on UV exposure when exposed to different developmental stages, so a study of a group of four birds was designed:
· Birds with UV light only for the first 3 weeks of life
· Birds with UV light only at weeks 4 and 5 of lif
· Birds with UV light for the entire 5 weeks starting at day-of-age
· Birds with no UV light
All groups had the same white light in their environment. Chickens with UV light consistently ate more and didn’t forage in areas with no food compared to those with only white light, she said.
Ultraviolet rays reduce the "fear response" of birds - when a newcomer walks into the house, they don't go far, they only do it with white light. This is positive, Dennis said, because birds are easily frightened, which can lead to running and injury.
She concluded that broilers only like UV or UV/white or white light.
The study also revealed differences based on when UV was introduced. Exposure during the entire growth period makes the birds more comfortable under different levels of white light. Birds with UV light only during the first 3 weeks are preferably low intensity white light. Dennis said that birds exposed in the 4th and 5th weeks prefer high-intensity white light.
She said that providing natural ultraviolet light for birds can enrich the entire environment of birds - they can see more birds and notice that some companies are adding windows to poultry houses.