Wichman, A., De Groot, R., Håstad, O. et al. 2021. Influence of different light spectrums on behaviour and welfare in laying hens. Animals 11(4), 924.
Artificial commercial lighting used in animal production facilities can have negative influences on visual abilities, behaviour and welfare of domestic fowl. This study examined the effects of natural-derived light spectrums on behaviour, production and welfare of laying hens reared from hatching into adulthood. Comparisons were made of frequency of a range of behaviours associated with activity, aggression and comfort in birds kept in control light (commercial standard), daylight (full spectrum, including ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths and forest light (forest understorey, including UV). In addition, bird preferences for different lights, feather damage and egg production were monitored. The results showed that the behavioural repertoire of birds changed with age, while the effects of light treatment were subtle. Some evidence was found that birds preferred either daylight or forest light to control light, suggesting that inclusion of UV contributed to the preference. Daylight and forest light were associated with more active behaviours, and daylight with better plumage and later start of lay. Thus natural-like light may have beneficial effects on domestic fowl, but the differences between broad-spectrum light sources are rather small.