Light: Adding value to a steel frame
Farming Monthly National|September 2020
Light: Adding value to a steel frame
Design guidance on lighting for livestock buildings has remained rudimentary for years. BS5502: part 40, (1990) states that natural lighting should be provided for cattle where possible, with supplementary artificial lighting where appropriate.

Target light levels recommend 50 lux as standard service illumination and 300 lux for inspection. Similar guidance is given for sheep and pig buildings but with the comment that reproduction efficiency in sows is particularly sensitive to changes in day length (photoperiod). Knowledge of lighting requirements for poultry is more advanced than for other species, but even so the gap between was is required and what is delivered inside a building can be miles apart.

Lighting is an area where it is possible to add value to building design, but sales will only come if the added cost of added natural or artificial light can be justified by clear welfare/health/production benefits. The potential for getting better lighting control into livestock buildings is good because the baseline of knowledge is low, and the tools to provide on-site awareness are now very low cost.

The RIDBA Farm Buildings Handbook suggests 10-15% of the roof area as roof lights and mentions that whilst there are commercial pressures that support more roof lights, attention needs to be paid to solar gain. There was a trend in animal welfare dialogue 20 years ago that suggested that more natural light equalled more welfare benefits, and therefore that more roof lights equates to an improvement, but the facts are different. There are considerable benefits to be gained by “adequate lighting” but the negative impact of >10% roof lights on adult cattle kept inside in the summer months in the UK can have a negative influence on feed intakes and therefore yield, on the prevalence of environmental mastitis, and on financial returns. The design requirements are to take what is known, not opinion, and apply it to new and existing buildings.

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September 2020