The effect of light intensity on the behavior, eye and leg health, and immune function of broiler chickens

R. A. Blatchford, K. C. Klasing, H L Shivaprasad, P. S. Wakenell, G. S. Archer, J. A. Mench

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Broilers are typically raised commercially in dim lighting. It has been suggested that providing brighter light intensity could improve health and provide opportunities for more normal behavioral rhythms. We examined the effects of 3 photophase light intensities (5, 50, and 200 lx) on activity patterns, immune function, and eye and leg condition of broilers (n = 753; 6 replicate pens/treatment). Broilers were reared with one of these intensities from 1 to 6 wk of age; photoperiod consisted of 16L:8D with 1 lx intensity during the scotophase. Broilers reared with 5 lx were less active (P = 0.023) during the day than 50 or 200 lx and showed less (P < 0.0001) change in activity between day and night than 50 or 200 lx. There was no difference between treatments for final BW (2.30 ± 0.02 kg) or for most immune parameters (IgG primary and secondary responses to keyhole limpet hemocyanin, B and T lymphocyte proliferation, plasma lysozyme, haptoglobin, NO, whole blood killing of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus), but there was a trend (P = 0.072) for a greater IgM response in 50 lx (6.21 titer) than 5 lx (5.78 titer), with 200 lx (5.92 titer) intermediate. There was no effect of light intensity on back-to-front (1.13 ± 0.01 cm) or side-to-side (1.48 ± 0.01 cm) diameter of the eyes or on corneal radii (0.82 ± 0.01 cm), but 5 lx (2.33 ± 0.07 g) had heavier eyes (P = 0.002) than 50 lx (2.09 ± 0.04 g) or 200 lx (2.11 ± 0.04 g). There were no differences in gait score, although 200 lx broilers had more hock and footpad bruising (P = 0.038) but fewer erosions (P = 0.006) than 5 or 50 lx. Increased daylight intensity had little effect on broiler health but resulted in more pronounced behavioral rhythms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-28
Number of pages9
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Behavior
  • Broiler
  • Health
  • Lighting
  • Welfare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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