Swine-specific lighting built for tough conditions

Animal-centric lighting products designed and manufactured by Once Inc. enhance the visual environment for pigs, while standing up to the harsh conditions of a swine agricultural environment.

Cheryl Day, Former Editor

July 7, 2016

6 Min Read
Swine-specific lighting built for tough conditions
<p>Brian <span data-scayt-lang="en_US" data-scayt-word="Babb">Babb</span> (right) shows New Product Tour panel members how the adapter works for an easy retrofit installation into existing lighting junction boxes.</p>

Animal-centric lighting products designed and manufactured by Once Inc. enhance the visual environment for pigs, while standing up to the harsh conditions of a swine agricultural environment. Once understands the biological responses that are controlled by how pigs perceive color. Its lighting systems mimic the way a pig naturally sees a sunrise and sunset, which results in calmer animals, lower stress hormones and greater productivity.

During the New Products Tour, Once featured its latest light, the AgriShift MLM-Swine 10 LED (MLM-S) fixture with updated Dim to Calm technology that will catch any pig farmer’s eye.

The AgriShift MLM-S is suitable for use in sow barns, gestation buildings, nurseries, gilt development units and finishing facilities. The MLM-S provides exceptional light quality for both the swine herds and the humans caring for them, spreading the light evenly across the production floor where you and your swine need it.

Built tough
The real beauty of Once lighting products is the technology’s ability to withstand harsh barn environments. The MLM-S fixture is “built for your barn.” It can withstand powerwashing and is built to resist corrosion and other environmental conditions associated with raising swine. The MLM-S is also watertight, heat-dissipating and long-lasting, which prolongs the life of the lamp and eliminates the hassle of maintenance costs while conforming to agricultural lighting standards.

Entering into the swine lighting world, Once immediately spotted the downfall of the jelly-jar style light — its ability to generate heat. Brian Babb, Once swine sales representative, says, “The glass of the jelly jar is like an oven. It generates heat, and there is no way to dissipate the jelly-jar heat, which can shorten the life of the light bulb. Just developing a LED light bulb that fits in the jelly jar was not the solution Once was looking for. Finding a way to dissipate the heat was the key.” Once found a more effective way to disperse the heat and designed its own LED light fixture, complete with an adaptor to fit in existing light fixtures or junction boxes.

The first series of Once’s LED lights was directional lighting, which is good for hallways and sow barns but not ideal for grow-to-finish facilities. Holding on to tradition, hog producers asked for lights similar to the jelly-jar style. As a result, Once introduced the AgriShift MLM-S 10-watt LED fixture.

The fixture is new to the market but still carries all the same features as other LED lights offered by Once.
■ replaces CFL screw-based lamps
■ 50,000-hour lifetime warranty, backed by a five-year (24/7) replacement warranty (estimated 80,000 hours)
■ 2,000-psi washdown
■ fully dimmable
■ adapter available for retrofit
■ easy maintenance
■ uses one-third less energy
■ built for the barn

Right design
A proper lighting system makes all the difference in the world for both the pigs and humans caring for them. Studies show that light has an impact on pig performance. Compared to humans, pigs have poor vision. A pig’s acuity is lower (at best, one-tenth of a human’s), and pigs only have two pigment cones versus the three humans have to decipher color. Poor lighting can make it difficult for the pigs to distinguish between each other and find feeders, and makes tasks like moving from one place to another difficult. 

According to research, pigs respond differently to certain colors due to their poor color perception and show reduced sensitivity to the red end of the spectrum. Red light is perceived as darkness by a pig.  Based on this knowledge, Once developed the only 10-watt LED with Dim to Calm technology.   

Furthermore, research shows that duration of light can modify pigs’ seasonality and welfare. While extended hours of light may be advantageous for appetite and rate of gain, studies have concluded that a full 24 hours of light can have a detrimental impact on the pig. Although studies have shown that changing illumination patterns should be avoided, more research is needed to truly understand the bearing of changing light patterns on the pig. 

Understanding that pigs are incredibly intelligent animals allow producers to give them a more natural environment that increases performance. The ability to dim the lights similar to a sunset or sunrise is a beneficial feature not fully recognized by the industry. Babb explains, “Every time you walk into the facility and abruptly flip the light switch, it causes the pigs to jump up, which creates stress in the animal, causing performance loss.” In order to reduce the flicker of the light stress, the MLM-S light has a Dim to Calm technology that simulates the sunrise and sunset to reduce stress on your animals caused by sudden changes in light. The red light can also be used as a service light, allowing employees to see and make their way around the barn without disturbing the pig or interrupting sleep cycles with sudden changes in light. Controlling intensity of wavelength and light duration is now at the producer’s fingertips with the MLM-S.

Once lighting systems work best when they architect an optimized floor metric layout for each customer installing the lights. The provided lighting blueprint takes the feeder and aisle placements into consideration along with audit requirements. The company understands that retrofitting the new LED lights to existing junction boxes with the available adapter may be the best solution for the farm.

Typically, Babb says, “In a swine barn the lighting is bright down below away from the ceiling, making it difficult for people working in barns to see.” Once has overcome this problem. “I have gotten hugs from people because they can see what they are doing. Is that a big deal? Certainly, it is a huge deal,” he says.

Bright light not only improves the working environment, but also suppresses the melatonin levels in the animals. Regulating more than sleep, it benefits other biological functions, too, like reproductive performance.

Valuable feedback
Feedback from customers has been positive. Babb reports that employees appreciate spending less time replacing light bulbs in the old jelly-jar fixtures. Since the task is taxing, it is often put off, and eventually the light level is extremely low. The MLM-S light is an improvement for everyone. Babb says, “We were trying to build a lighting system for the animal, but what we found is that we’re actually building a lighting system for all living things.”

All panel members commented on the rugged qualities of the MLM-S LED light and how it will survive in a harsh agricultural environment. Dale Stevermer, panel member and hog producer, explains, “With an estimated 80,000-hour lifetime of the light, I never have to worry about if the lights are left on. If a light fails, it takes a half-turn twist to remove and replace it. They’re a super-quick fix.” That’s a claim that cannot be made for the jelly-jar lights.

Moreover, the adapter available for retrofitting the MLM–S fixture to a current light socket is also simple and painless. The company offers all the necessary components to adjust the height of the lights to the producer’s desired level, explains panel member Joseph Zulovich, agriculture engineer.

The entire New Product Tour panel found the AgriShift MLM-Swine 10 LED a refreshing lighting option and easy solution to improve the visual environment in swine facilities. You can learn more by visiting onceinnovations.com

About the Author(s)

Cheryl Day

Former Editor, National Hog Farmer

Cheryl Day is a former editor of National Hog Farmer.

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