Significance of poultry blackout curtains in the management of laying poultry
Light is indeed a significant factor for managing your laying poultry. Research has established the fact that avian species respond to light in different ways which includes their growth and reproductive performance as well. Commercial poultry farmers are aware of the significance of regulating the photoperiod of pullets in order to stimulate the reproduction process. Hence poultry farmers are also aware of the significance of having blackout curtains for poultry. Light energy has three major functions for chickens: facilitating their sight, stimulating their internal cycles owing to day length changes, and initiating release of hormones in them. Research has also established the fact that the color of light also has varied effects on the growth, behavior, and reproduction in poultry.
Chickens sense light through their eyes and via their photosensitive cells in their brain. Since the long wavelengths of light penetrate the skull and skin more effectively as compared to short wavelengths of light, it has been observed that the behavior and growth of hens are linked to retinal photoreception. Reproduction on the other hand, is linked to extra retinal photoreceptors. The usage of poultry blackout for birds is thus quite a common industry practice.
The purpose of having blackout curtains for poultry is to make the brain of the pullets more responsive when they are exposed to long day lengths in the breeding house thereby leading to efficient production of eggs. If your chickens are not exposed to short day lengths before the egg production cycle, they are likely to become less responsive to the exposure of long day lengths. Thus they will not respond appropriately to the long day lengths in the breeding house.
Proper light management with the help of poultry blackout for birds initiates the final elements of sexual maturity in chickens that is required for efficient production of eggs. When your chickens are properly sensitized it produces on time and this is quite significant for managing breeder flock placement times.
One of the major environmental cues for controlling reproduction in chickens is the length of day. For the purpose of reproduction in chickens, the reception of light is not just through their eyes but via the light energy that penetrates their feathers, skin, and skull and then perceived via an organ within their brain. Blackout curtains for poultry can assist you to play around with light for influencing their laying eggs cycle.
The longer wavelengths of light are much more effective in reaching their brain as compared to the shorter wavelengths of light. Hence the wavelength of light is a crucial factor when low light intensities are being used in artificial light systems where the minimal threshold of light for the hens may not be attained.
Chickens are known to interpret the length of a day by the presence or lack of light during their photosensitive period that is usually within 11-16 hours after dawn in a 24 hour day cycle. If after dawn the pullets perceive light during their photosensitive period, they are likely to interpret a longer day. Similarly, if they do not perceive light during their photosensitive period, then they will interpret a shorter day that is similar to a winter day length.
You need to be aware of the fact that all the pullets within a breeder house are not identical when it comes to responding to light. This is clearly evident with the variation that is seen while performing uniformity checks during weighing the pullets. Variation is indeed a part and parcel of the biology of all living beings. Hence, it is may be safe to say that all your chickens may not respond to the same threshold of light in the same manner. It is important that you maintain sufficient minimal light intensity using poultry-blackout-curtains so that all your pullets at least perceive the minimal threshold of light required for reproduction.
You can attain black out housing for your poultry by exposing your growing pullets to at least 8 hours of light every day using either artificial or natural light and by taking the help of poultry-blackout-curtains for them. If you plan to use natural light for their photosensitive period, then you need to either raise or lower the poultry blackout curtains to provide the required light or dark periods to them. In case you plan to use artificial light for your poultry, you can either raise the blackout curtains for poultry permanently or ensure that your sidewalls are solid. Another by product of an efficient black out program is proper control of growth and feed consumption of your chickens.
If you are using a drop-down poultry blackout curtain system, you will notice that curtain brackets are there to restrict the curtain rope from interfering with the opening of the curtain. These curtain pockets provide a channel so that the curtain can slide in easily. They prevent the ends of the poultry blackout curtain from moving recklessly with the wind. You may use either poultry netting or bird netting to cover the opening and prevent birds from entering when the curtain is open.
A note of caution
Problems in breeding may come up if light leaks into the breeder house during the dark period. Such leakage of light reduces the contrast between light and dark that you expose your poultry to. It will decrease the effectiveness of your blackout housing. Hence, it will be your continuous job to minimize such light leaks and maintain optimal blackout conditions using poultry blackout curtains.
One of the best ways to check if your blackout conditions are apt is by turning off the lights or raising the poultry blackout for birds during the time when the chickens are normally exposed to light. You must avoid going inside the breeder house to feed your birds during the dark period. If you turn on the lights even during a brief period, especially during the last 8 weeks, it may cause your pullets to misinterpret the day length.
If you are using artificial lighting in your pullet house, any factor which may decrease the desired intensity of light in the breeder house may pose a problem. When you replace burned out incandescent lamps, it is important that you use lamps that have the same voltage or wattage so that you do not end up changing the intensity of light. Hence, consistent attention and management is essential to carry out proper blackout rearing and poultry blackout curtains have a crucial role to play in this.