The influence of light on milk production

Proper lighting in barns ensures optimum cow performance. It has been proven, that proper lighting inside the barn — including an optimal time schedule — may increase milk production by 6 to 10%.

Management, Milking

How does this work?

Cows are sensitive animals and their day-and-night rhythm is of paramount importance. Particular light levels are necessary to impact the difference between the day-and-night rhythms on the cow’s body. A carefully planned light scenario will provide sufficient light to the cows in daytime and ensure a (dark) resting period as well.

Outside, in daytime, as soon as the light level reaches the retina, the cow’s nerves will send a signal to the hypophysis in the brain to lower the production of the hormone melatonin. This hormone results in sleepiness, increases the percentage of body fats, and disturbs the animals’ productive capabilities. When the melatonin level decreases, another hormone, namely IGF-1, increases in the animals’ blood. The function of the IGF-1 hormone is to stimulate animal activity and, hence, its milk production. Therefore, more light means an increase of milk production.

In barns there is usually not enough light, especially in winter time, to reach the natural light level. With correct lighting control, cows benefit most from a light intensity between 150 and 200 lux during a 16-hour period, combined with an 8-hour dark period. In the summer season, the natural light level may often be sufficient in itself, although lighting control may — even in summer time — provide benefits on cloudy, darker days.


Controlled lighting system

The Lely L4C controlled barn lighting system uses gas-discharge lamps and lamp units with special reflectors. It is therefore possible to install a lighting system with an even distribution of light while using a minimum number of lamp units.

The lamp units are specially designed to spread out a high lumen level with the lowest energy consumption. Within a network, which is connected to each lamp unit through a node box, each unit has its own IP address and therefore the light can be controlled not only from a control box, but from the PC as well. The L4C network includes a smart facility making it possible to install the lights according to an individual or grouped lighting program. Thus, lighting is only switched on when the outside light level is such that light levels in the barn become too low.

During dusk and dawn periods, not all lights need to burn in order to realize a well-balanced light level in the barn. Over time, this reduces energy costs as not all lights will be switched on. The system guarantees that the cows can permanently benefit from a sufficient light level.

Within the L4C software program, installation can be easily adapted while in addition the burning hours per light can be easily checked and controlled. This will make it possible to configure an efficient replacement program which is cheaper and less time-consuming.

Lely L4C

Light for Cows, is much more than just a number of lights to lighten your barn; it is an altogether different approach to barn lighting. This new system – the first of its kind – has been developed to ensure optimal light distribution in the barn, using specially designed lamp units. Due to the unique fact that each lamp unit has its own node box, connected to a network, the individual lights have their own lighting program according to their place in the barn. Thus, the system ensures optimum light levels throughout the barn while keeping energy consumption as low as possible.