Daylength controller improves pig welfare and saves money

21-09-2010 | |

The Farmex Dicam Daylength Controller is a software package that improves pig welfare, cuts costs and is good for the environment. In a 1,000-pig place finisher building, savings amounted to £524 a year — 13p per pig produced — and carbon emissions were reduced by over two tonnes, says Farmex director, Hugh Crabtree.

“Day length is very important to pigs.©Independent research shows that pigs, like humans, prefer a long day length — 16 hours of daylight — though, with more sensitive eyes evolved for northern forests, they prefer their daylight dimmer than we do.©A longer day length reduces stress and improves both growth rates and immune response.”
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However, he points out that permanent lighting — where the stockperson forgets to turn the lights off at night — apart from being expensive, is bad for pigs as it leads to disturbed behavioural patterns and deprives pigs of melatonin.©Melatonin is a natural hormone, produced only if there is a period of complete dark.©In humans, a shortage of melatonin is known to be related to stress and sleep disorders.
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Most piggeries now have good natural light through windows and vents — but not for long enough for all of the year, suggests Hugh.©A longer day length than the EU minimum of eight hours is strongly desirable for pigs but this may increase power consumption, particularly in winter.
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The Dicam Daylength Controller takes advantage of daylight by switching off the artificial lighting when there is sufficient natural light.©“This saves over 75 per cent of the running cost, making it cheaper to give the pigs the 16-hour day they desire than switching lights on for eight hours. It also saves time and effort,” he said.
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The software can also include “phased dimming” to simulate dawn and dusk, allowing the lights to run at reduced power for much of the time and giving a more natural start and end to the day.
Farmex is building this software into its popular range of Dicam ventilation controllers. In most cases just a single timer is needed per building, even if it has a number of rooms, and farms with existing Dicam controls can update their system to include this feature.©“Payback in electricity saving is typically less than a year, with improved welfare and lower carbon emissions the icing on the cake,” said Hugh.
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Related website:
www.farmex.com
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