Long-day lighting boosts milk production
There's an easier way to boost milk production than milking three times
a day or using growth hormones: just leave the lights on longer, for 16 to 18
hours a day. The technique, long-day lighting, has been used successfully on
poultry operations for years. Now, more and more dairy operations show
increases in milk production and profits through long-day lighting — especially
when energy-efficient lighting is used.
Milk production increased
Long-day lighting strengthens milk production and your bottom line.
Studies have shown that long-day lighting can boost milk production from
5 to 16 percent.
Offsets low production in fall and winter
Milk production usually drops a bit during fall and winter because cows
tend to eat less when it's dark. But extending lighting during the
short-day seasons creates a stimulating effect, fooling cows' body
clocks into thinking it's summer. More "daylight" results
in more feed intake and more milk production. The key is keeping the feeding
area consistently well-lit with either natural or artificial light for 16 to
18 hours a day.
Brightness and location of lights important
Research has determined the best types of lights, the optimum locations and
the required brightness needed to boost milk production. Your WPS agricultural consultant can help you analyze the brightness and
positioning of your current lighting system and can also calculate how
much you'll save by installing energy-efficient lighting.
Sample floor plan of supplemental lighting program
installation in stanchion or tie-stall barn. (Source: Stanisiewski, E. and H.
A. Tucker, "Supplemental light increases milk yield in Michigan dairy herds."
Cooperative Extension Service, Michigan State University, Bulletin E-2013,
Estimated profitability of long-day lighting1
|Annual profit per cow
|Total annual profit
Source: Wisconsin Dairy Profitability and Safety Project,
UW — Madison Biological Systems Engineering Department.
- After one-time start-up costs are paid off.
- Cows housed in tie-stall barn with fluorescent lamps.
- Cows housed in freestall barn with high-pressure sodium lamps.
Boost your bottom line further with energy efficiency
Most studies of long-day lighting involved fluorescent lighting rather than
traditional incandescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting provides more light per
energy dollar helps maximize profits.
Long-day lighting increases milk production, but may also result in higher
costs for feed, electricity and lighting. But the increased milk yield produced by
long-day lighting can actually cover these extra costs while leaving a net profit.
This University of Wisconsin study found that long-day lighting results in a
daily profit of 34 cents per cow during the long-day lighting season.
The payback period for long-day lighting varies from operation to operation.
The installation costs depend on the following:
- barn style
- current lights being used
- number and capacity of lamps
- mounting height
- fixture spacing
WPS estimates the one-time lighting and installation costs are $36 to $54
per cow, or 20 to 30 cents per cow per day for the first season that long-day lighting
is implemented. A recent study by the University of Maryland derived returns of 30 to
45 cents per cow per day, while a University of Wisconsin study (see table above) found
a daily return of 34 cents per cow. A likely profit scenario follows: With a return of
34 cents per cow per day, a $45-per-cow investment in lighting would be recovered in
132 days. If you install a completely new lighting system with energy-efficient
fixtures, the project could break even in one fall/winter season.