Light up your cow’s life

It is less than eight weeks until the clocks change so now is a good time to assess the lighting in your dairy housing advises Milking Systems Business Manager, Rob Morrison.

Light is one of the biggest things that can change our mood. Everyone has experienced the glowing feeling they get from a bright sunny day, after several weeks of cloudy dull days. This is down to the hormones that are produced naturally when you are exposed to increased levels of light.

Dairy cows produces similar hormones that alter their behaviour as the days get longer or shorter. This change can easily be seen in the amount of milk produced when light levels are increased. Research has demonstrated, cows being exposed to a light level of 150-200 lux for 16-18 hours per day will produce two more litres of milk per day compared with cows exposed to normal daylight levels. So there is a big payback from getting lighting right.

It is very important that cows also have a period of darkness in each 24-hour period to allow them to rest. However, this period should not be total darkness and a level of 30 lux should always be maintained in the cow area to avoid stress.

Light coming from above the cows is best to prevent shadows. This is particularly important if you have any type of moving machinery around the cows, where moving shadows will cause panic in the herd. Clear roof panels can provide good natural light, but the amount of light you get in any area is changeable depending on the time of the year.

Don’t forget that walkways and collecting areas also need sufficient light to keep cow safe and to minimise stress. Genus Milking Systems Parlour Consultants can analyse the light levels in any area of the farm to check they meet the required standards. They will also help you interpret the results to see if any areas would benefi t from extra lighting adding and advise on possible solutions. This test is very quick, with results usually given on the same day.

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