Research has shown that lighting can have a major effect on cows. It was found that 16 hours of lighting at 150-200 lux followed by 8 hours of darkness resulted in a 7-8% increase in milk yields and can bring benefits in bulling behaviour.

Upon hearing this, dairy farmer Martin Beaumont decided to try adjusting light levels to improve his farm.

Originally, Mr Beaumont had left the lights or for 24 hours a day at 40-50 lux. The lights need to be turned off for 8 hours and at 150-200 lux in order for the cows to get any benefit.

Mr Beaumont has now: got new lights, called in an electrician to correctly position the lights and has set them on a timer. The timer means that the lights automatically go off at 10pm and back on at 4am. There is also a sensor that will use the lights if daylight isn’t sufficient.

Talking about the effect of the lights, Mr Beauont, said:

The lights go on before milking, which means cows are up and at the feed through. We’ve noticed quite a change in the cows. They’re brighter during daytime and there’s been an increase in bulling activity. The light also means we can spot them easier. The fact they’re not half asleep has been noticeable and means it’s a bit easier to get them in the parlour. The lights have also helped staff morale, especially on dark mornings. Everyone’s commented that they feel better.

Chris Flint from Kite Consulting gives his tips on lighting for farms (though some can apply to everyone):

  • Buy a cheap light meter and find out what light levels are currently like
  • Milking cows need 16 hours of light at 150-200 lux followed by eight hours of darkness
  • 200 lux is the same as in a supermarket
  • Ventilation and lighting go hand in hand – often improving ventilation can bring added light
  • Use a timer to help deliver the right periods of light and dark and a sensor so lights are only delivering the amount of light needed at that time
  • Look at capital costs and running costs of different lights – LED light bulbs may be worth considering and might save you money in the long run
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