Spring Hill Farms

  (Newark, Ohio)
Heritage Breed Pastured Pork, Chickens, Grass Fed Beef
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Full Spectrum Lighting for Goats, Pigs, and Chickens

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Full Spectrum Bulb
I first heard of full spectrum lighting several years ago. Full spectrum lights are the closest light to natural sunlight available. It got me to thinking about how it would effect livestock during the long days of winter here in Ohio.

The main thing I was pondering was would it make a difference in piglets that are born in the early winter? I kept researching and came to the conclusion it would. Here is what one study indicated.




Scientists have discovered a new receptor in the eye that, among other things, monitors your biological clocks.

Apart from the other photoreceptors in your eye that allow you to see, this "third eye" responds differently to light by sending signals to your brain's hypothalamus, thus regulating your production of melatonin, which in turn controls your body's circadian rhythms.

Researchers experimented with lamps emitting different wavelengths of light on workers toiling in the high-stress environment on one floor of a health insurance call center. In comparison to co-workers on other floors, they felt more alert, and the quality of their work improved too. The Independent September 26, 2006

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Tamworth Pigs in the Sun
Since I'm always striving to mimic nature, this new technology of full spectrum lighting seemed like a good fit for our farm. I first bought some bulbs from BlueMax Lighting(tm) and used them in my home.

I immediately noticed that after getting up in the morning and sitting under the full spectrum lighting I felt in a better mood. That was enough to convince my wife! Seriously, the only way I can describe it is I felt much like I do when I get up and go out on the deck and have a cup of coffee on a bright sunny morning. You start remarking how nice of a day it's going to be and get motivated to "get something done". Another reason my wife was convinced I should keep them!

They are a much whiter light than the yellow light bulbs we were using. Even though the evidence I experienced was anecdotal, I didn't need anymore convincing that there was something to this full spectrum lighting.

Some other benefits that are cited by proponents of full spectrum lighting is:

  • Improved mood

  • Enhanced mental awareness, concentration and productivity ...

  • Superior visual clarity and color perception ...

  • Better sleep ...

  • Super-charged immune system ...

  • More energy ...

  • Reduced eye strain and fatigue with a glare-free and comfortable reading environment ...

  • Greater learning ability and intelligence ...
Whether or not it actually has all these benefits, I'll leave up to you to decide.

My pigs haven't told me they're in a good mood or feel like they have less eye strain, but I can tell you this, it's another weapon in my arsenal to keep our new piglets healthy and growing when they are born in the dead of winter or when the days are getting short.

Full spectrum lighting is also a good way to keep milk production up with our goats. This is an area where you need to be careful. If you introduce full spectrum lighting too early in the Fall as days get shorter, you're goats may not breed. The shorter day for seasonal breeding goats is what triggers reproduction.

I wait until I'm sure they are bred and then use the lights.

Something else I've learned is full spectrum lighting in the hen house will definitely keep our laying hens going strong when they would typically stop laying eggs.

Years ago the farmer's wife would mix up hot mash to help keep the hens laying through the cold winter. We now know that it's more the deprivation of light that slows or even stops egg production. Chickens need between 14 and 16 hours of light. I set mine on a timer so they get light earlier in the morning and then later at night. Light also effects the molting period of chickens. It's a natural function of chickens to molt so we allow our chickens to molt and egg production ceases at that time to allow the hens to recuperate.

So if your hens are getting sluggish put some full spectrum bulbs in the hen house and watch what happens.

If you or your spouse are in the winter doldrums put some in the house too! (that won't help the egg layers by the way)

So to sum this one up, try some full spectrum lighting where you think you need it most and see what happens for yourself!

Until next time....
 
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Comments:

Excellent article, came in very handy. Thank you for your post.

Posted by Poly on December 23, 2010 at 07:20 AM EST #

Thanks! We have noticed a difference since using it.

David

Posted by David on December 23, 2010 at 08:07 AM EST #

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