FUNCTILIGHT aims to improve welfare (including health) and performance of fast- and slower-growing broilers
and layer pullets by providing them a functional light program (spectrum, intensity, source), that meets the
needs of the chickens and stimulates their natural behaviour. The results significantly contribute to the goals of
the ‘Uitvoeringsagenda Pluimveesector’ (2019), stating ‘natural behaviour of chickens is the starting point and
requirement for the development of innovative housing systems’. In FUNCTILIGHT the unique cooperation of
light equipment developers, breeders, integrations, primary farmers and researchers will stimulate fast
innovation and implementation in poultry housing improving overall sustainability. The ‘Dierenbescherming’ is
involved via the supervising committee.
Light is an important aspect in broiler and layer pullet management, as it affects welfare including health and
performance. Light has many aspects: spectrum (colour, UV provision), intensity, variation (during the day, with
age and in the house), and light schedule (light-dark rhythm), and these likely also interact with each other. In
husbandry guidelines, quality schemes and legislation, often only light intensity (measured in Lux) and light
schedule are included, as these were the only features that could be adjusted before the introduction of LED
lights. With the development of new light technologies (i.e. LED lights) it is now possible to adjust lighting in
any possible way to meet the needs of the birds depending on the type of chicken, age, time of day and
functional area in the house. However, despite these new technologies and the increasing application of LED
lights in poultry houses, in practice lighting programs are often only based on assumptions, because the actual
needs and preferences of the chickens are unknown.
In FUNCTILIGHT we will first address the preferences for light intensity, spectrum and their interaction in fastand slower-growing broiler chickens and layer pullets. For broiler chickens, a separate research pillar will
address the effects of and preference for daylight, as this is currently often included in welfare regulations
without sufficient scientific justification of the broiler’s behavioural requirements. The results of the preference
tests will be used to design dynamic lighting (variation over the day) and spatial variation in light, and these
programs will be tested in commercial broiler flocks (fast- and slower-growing chickens) and layer pullets. For
broiler chickens, this includes the provision of daylight by windows and artificially providing daylight, in both
fast- and slower-growing flocks. For layer pullets either white LED or wide spectrum LED will be used,
depending on the results of the first trials. Also the relation between rearing light conditions and the hen’s
navigation abilities will be determined to reduce bone fractures.
At the end of FUNCTILIGHT, we will have (1) fundamental knowledge on the preferences and needs of fast- and
slower growing broilers and layer pullets with regard to light aspects (spectrum, intensity, source (artificial vs.
daylight); (2) light programs (including artificial daylight program) for fast- and slower-growing broilers that
stimulate their natural behaviour in relation to functional areas in the house, improve their welfare and
guarantee optimal performance; (3) a light program for rearing laying hen pullets that stimulates their natural
behaviour, prevents the development of injurious pecking, improves their navigation abilities in housing
systems and supports their overall welfare. Communication, including with NGO’s, is an important aspect of
FUNCTILIGHT to stimulate fast uptake of results in practice.
|Effective start/end date||1/01/21 → 31/12/24|