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How good shed lighting is essential to dairy performance

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Good lighting is a fundamental requirement of the efficient operation of the farm, said Barry Caslin speaking at the Energy in Agriculture event recently.

Research suggests that enhanced lighting levels can improve lactation and growth performance in dairy cattle, said the Teagasc advisor.

Lighting is also costly to provide and run, so choosing the most suitable fitting layout and control equipment is essential, he explained.

Natural lighting can make an enormous contribution to dairy buildings, both in cubicle housing and for parlours, he said, adding that transparent wall sections are also useful. He also said dirty fittings could reduce output by 50pc and clean lights mean fewer fittings are required.

Even with the best natural lighting resource, artificial light must be used to guarantee light in all conditions, time of day and time of year, he explained, adding that this can be costly and to ensure to make the most of natural lighting first.

Lighting design is important, said Barry. He said to consider the way lighting is used on an everyday basis, where is the right place for the switches and are lights in a position where they can be readily cleaned and where the bulbs can be safely changed? He also said that fittings in most cases would have to be water and dust proof.

He also recommended replacing tungsten lamps with fluorescent. Over a period of 8000 hours use, the cost of using fluorescent lighting will be less than half that of tungsten filament lighting, he explained.

Replacing 38mm diameter fluorescent tubes with 26mm tubes which use 8% less electricity, said Barry. The 236 mm tubes also cost slightly less and can be used as a direct replacement for existing lamps in most switch start light fittings with modification, he said.

For high ceiling rooms, high-pressure sodium lighting (SON) is often preferred to Fluorescent Lighting. With higher wattage, fewer fittings are needed, and the result is a more economical installation.

Rather than rely on manual switching, it is possible to install automatic lighting control such as passive infra-red (PIR) or time locks, said Barry.

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