Evaluation of alternative lighting technologies on broiler performance and stress

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University of Delaware
Broiler production and management has become highly specialized over the years to optimize bird performance. Recent research has focused on the effect of light on bird growth and health, specifically regarding the intensity, duration, and wavelength of light provided to the birds. This project evaluated the impact of light emitting diode (LED), cold cathode fluorescent (CCFL), and incandescent lamps on broiler performance and welfare. Six hundred and seventy-two (672) male Ross 708 broilers were raised to six weeks of age in 8 light-tight modified large colony houses under identical intermittent lighting conditions using 4 unique types of lamps. Incandescent lamps served as the control; experimental technologies tested were a CCFL bulb produced by Precision Lighting Systems, an LED produced by Once Innovations, Inc., and an LED produced by Next Gen Lights. Each technology was tested in duplicate for each of the 4 trials (8 replications total per technology) conducted across the course of a single year to account for seasonal variance. Live performance for each technology was evaluated using live broiler body weight, feed conversion, and mortality. Birds were removed from each house at days 7, 14, 35, and 42 to be humanely euthanized, weighed, and harvested for allometric tissue sample analysis. Blood collection via cardiac puncture was performed to obtain heterophil:lymphocyte (H:L) ratios for evaluation of environmental stress. Relative to the technologies tested, results indicate that incandescent and LED lamps result in heavier birds with lower feed conversion ratios, while CCFL lamps yield poorer body weight performance and higher feed conversion ratios. An evaluation of heterophil to lymphocyte ratios shows strong correlations between age, seasonality, and technology.