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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Effects of achromatic and chromatic lights on pupillary response, endocrinology, activity, and milk production in dairy cows

Lindkvist, Sofia; Ternman, Emma; Ferneborg, Sabine; Bankestad, Daniel; Lindqvist, Johan; Ekesten, Bjorn; Agenas, Sigrid


Artificial light can be used as a management tool to increase milk yield in dairy production. However, little is known about how cows respond to the spectral composition of light. The aim of this study was to investigate how dairy cows respond to artificial achromatic and chromatic lights. A tie-stall barn equipped with light-emitting diode (LED) light fixtures was used to create the controlled experimental light environments. Two experiments were conducted, both using dairy cows of Swedish Red and light mixtures with red, blue or white light. In experiment I, the response to light of increasing intensity on pupil size was evaluated in five pregnant non-lactating cows. In experiment II 16h of achromatic and chromatic daylight in combination with dim, achromatic night light, was tested on pregnant lactating cows during five weeks to observe long term effects on milk production, activity and circadian rhythms. Particular focus was given to possible carry over effects of blue light during the day on activity at night since this has been demonstrated in humans. Increasing intensity of white and blue light affected pupil size (P<0.001), but there was no effect on pupil size with increased intensity of red light. Milk yield was maintained throughout experiment II, and plasma melatonin was higher during dim night light than in daylight for all treatments (P<0.001). In conclusion, our results show that LED fixtures emitting red light driving the ipRGCs indirectly via ML-cones, blue light stimulating both S-cones and ipRGCs directly and a mixture of wavelengths (white light) exert similar effects on milk yield and activity in tied-up dairy cows. This suggests that the spectral composition of LED lighting in a barn is secondary to duration and intensity.

Published in

2021, Volume: 16, number: 7, article number: e0253776