What you may have considered a mere luxury in your barn could be affecting your cow’s fertility. Lighting is necessary when it comes to productivity in the dairy industry. Yields are important, but there’s another factor to consider – fertility.
For a sustainable dairy industry, it’s vital to manipulate all factors that could affect fertility. One of the most important factors is the lighting environment in the housing area. The lighting environment involves the amount of light and the colour spectrum and how long it will stay lit.
Lighting in your barn may affect the fertility of your dairy cattle. This is because light-dark cycles are critical to reproductive success, especially when it comes to reproduction in mammals, as it influences many of the physiological processes that are essential for reproduction. Humans, chickens, and cows alike have internal clocks.
Cattle rely on this sensitivity to environmental conditions for successful reproduction. And other physiological processes as well. Lighting influences things like body temperature, feed intake, and milk production. In turn, it all affects fertility.
Light exposure during the day increases melatonin production, just like during daylight. This could explain why grazing animals such as dairy cattle have lower birth rates. They also experience higher rates of infertility than their daytime grazing counterparts. The impact on hormones can have a profound effect on health. It leads to reproductive organs producing fewer offspring. While also being prone to conditions like infertility.
Fertility in dairy cows improves through controlling lighting environments. This is because light affects the biological clock of animals, like in humans. And this plays a significant role in fertility.
Lighting affects the timing and duration of estrus in dairy cows. Yet, the mechanism by which light influences the estrus is not well understood. Estrus is a state of reproductive readiness. During estrus, the female mounts are the primary producers.
The mounts are periodical throughout the diurnal cycle. This is an attempt to increase her odds of conceiving viable offspring. Light exposure at different times of day or night may influence estrogen levels in the female. As a result, it affects menses and the onset of estrus.
Long day lighting help solve our energy problems. But, we can also rely on it to help stimulate the reproductive process of cows. Long day lighting controls the daily light output to each area. It aids in maintaining consistent and predictable brightness, which allows for easy visual recognition.
Bright lights can also increase activity levels in the area. This makes them an important factor in managing flock health and productivity and reducing distracting visual disturbances from grazing animals.
In a dark environment, you can reset the lighting cycle using cortisol. Cortisol makes the cow shiver, wakes up, and drinks more water. Availability of light at regular intervals gradually transitions the body’s natural cycle. This is from wakefulness to sleep without disrupting the cortisol supply. Under normal circumstances, a dark environment blocks melatonin production, contributing to a sluggish or depressed mood.
Dairy farmers face the challenge of reducing production costs. While also managing the cost without affecting animal health and welfare. One way to reduce energy costs is to install light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. This replaces conventional incandescent lighting.
This solution was the result of a study conducted at Michigan State University. The research shows that LED lighting can result in significant reductions in energy costs. Also, it improves the reproductive performance of dairy cattle.
Cows with good fertility produce more milk, translating to more profit for dairy farmers and uplift the communities. Furthermore, endowing our dairy cows with optimal lighting reduces illness, which in turn promotes healthy dairy.