Light-emitting diode (LED) lights work very well in a hostile environment – dusty, dirty or wet. “They also take vibration or hits without burning out,” Rick Holmes, energy efficiency program manager for Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AECI) in Springfield, Mo., said. “LEDs are easily dimmable. High quality LED systems usually produce high >90 Power Factor (PF) which is favorable to utility system line voltage.”
According to Susan Watkins, University of Arkansas extension poultry specialist, typical lights used for poultry grow-out are 60 watt incandescent bulbs along with 15 watt dimmable compact fluorescent bulbs. It is also common to see 100 watt incandescent bulbs or 23 and 26 watt compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) used as additional light for the brooding period to help give plenty of light to the chicks so they can find feed and water.
Unfortunately, these light bulb types don’t last very long in the dusty and/or wet environment. “They also become contaminated with droppings and therefore can’t put out much light,” said Holmes.
The incandescent bulbs are cheap and produce lots of light or lumens for the money.
LED bulbs provide excellent energy savings, about 80 percent less energy usage compared to incandescent bulbs, and they are much more durable with better consistency in light quality. “Two of the LED bulbs in a field demonstration had zero failures and light output is holding at 70 to 80 percent of the original light output, 18 months after installation,” Watkins added.
Poultry LEDs cost $40 or less. To offset this cost the AECI offers a program “Take Control & Save” with a “Business Lighting Program” portion that pays a rebate of up to 40 percent of the cost for LEDs. The program is available to 51 cooperatives located in three states.
Holmes recommended that all types of poultry producers use LED lights. “Research the various manufacturers and find out who makes specialized LEDs for poultry, or call your local cooperative for more information,” he added.
“Growers which will see the most significant return on investment are those with solid side wall or dark curtain, tunnel ventilated barns with grow-outs longer than 35 days,” Watkins said. “We have calculated that with the rebate, growers can pay for the lights with energy savings in less than a year.”
“The biggest thing growers should do is make sure they have plenty of light located over the feed and water lines during the brooding phase,” Watkins said. “If growers have lights that are on 20 foot centers over the feed lines and a row of lights down the middle of the barn for brooding light, it will be necessary to choose the right LED for your operation to assure you have plenty of light during brooding. A minimum of 2 foot candles average light is necessary for optimal brooding.”
Watkins recommended that producers should not buy bulbs that have not been tested in poultry facilities, as they may not be suitable or durable.
“Producers should be aware that it’s (using LED lights) not just about energy efficiency,” Holmes said. “There is research emerging that indicates that other economic parameters may be apparent.”


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