Lighting programme in dark houses
A dark house is considered to be a building in which all sorts of light penetrating from outside produces an intensity of less than 0.5 lux, at above 20 degrees latitude. In such buildings, one should use the programme for dark houses.
With this level of light intensity coming from outside, there is little interference with the artificial lighting programme. Poultry react very well to any variation of light duration during the rearing period.
Even if it is always important to consider previously obtained performances, sexual maturity of the birds is more predictable.
In order to control and maximise growth of the pullets during their first weeks, using a slow step down lighting programme is recommended. This slow step down lighting programme could be adapted to growth performances or sexual maturity expected.
The normal or classic step down lighting programme comes from 23 hours the first three days after arrival to a plateau of light of 10 hours from 43 days. During this period, the light duration is decreased step by step by about two hours each week for six weeks.
Decrease of light duration could be done at a slower pace if growth performances are not as expected. The 10 hours plateau of light could be started from eight or 10 weeks old without any major delay of maturity. Delay of sexual maturity is being compensated by better growth observed with longer light duration. It is always preferable to encourage growth than sexual maturity.
For rearing in a dark house system and production in a naturally lit house, it is necessary to maintain high light intensity throughout the entire rearing period in order to avoid a sudden increase of light intensity.
It is also essential to achieve the recommended bodyweight at light stimulation and at 5 percent lay, in order to obtain an egg weight which conforms with the target from the start of lay, and to achieve high overall production.
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Article made possible through the contribution of Hendrix Genetics.