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LighTimes: U.C. Davis Researchers Develop Solar LED Light for Chicken Coops to Boost Egg Production

17 Sep 2013

September 17, 2013…Three researchers from U.C. Davis have devised a cost effective way to boost food production in developing countries using LEDs. Their development relates not to crop production, but to poultry. They placed a small solar-powered LED light in a chicken coop to stretch winter daylight hours and boost a hens’ egg production. The goal of the project is to create a reliable supply of nutritious food. The trio, who call themselves Henlight, will travel to Berlin Sept. 18 as one of five teams from across the globe competing for investment funding in the finals of the international 2013 Thought for Food Challenge Summit.

All three of the team members are current UC Davis employees; two are alumni. Emily Sin, is a recent avian sciences graduate who is examining sustainable sourcing of raw agricultural materials for the Information Center for the Environment and Agricultural Sustainability Institute; Edward Silva is a recent international agricultural development graduate who is serving as program coordinator for the Sustainable AgTech Innovation Center in the Graduate School of Management; and Lorena Galvan is a University of Oregon graduate who serves as program coordinator for the Central Valley Scholars Program with the Internship and Career Center.

“Consider the merits of poultry: they reproduce rapidly, exhibit an excellent feed-to-meat conversion ratio, have versatile dietary requirements, and are cheap to procure and manage.” Sin said.“From the rural, smallholder farmer to the urban homeowner to the poultry giant — far more people are able to participate in the poultry industry than in any other type of livestock production.”

The team’s small solar light is a modified version of a prototype light developed several years ago by researchers at the UC Davis Program for International Energy Technologies. In the summer of 2012, following graduation, Silva and a colleague ran the original prototype through a pilot test in homes located in rural communities near cities in Zambia. The light has since been developed and modified for poultry operations, where it can be used to stimulate chickens to lay more eggs more consistently, even during the shorter days of the year. Silva noted that this process is already done successfully in large-scale, global egg production.

“Our contribution is in making these techniques available to small-scale farmers by developing a light source that is affordable and appropriate — factors that are vital for successful agricultural innovations,¨ said Silva, who grew up on a small farm in California’s Central Valley.

“Henlight will increase the value of the individual chicken by sustaining consistent production during the seasons when there are fewer hours of natural daylight and, ultimately, will improve the state of food availability for smallholder farms,” he said.

“Farmers should receive roughly 40 percent to 80 percent more eggs during periods of shorter day length than they would without using the supplemental lighting,” Silva said. “For a small flock of 10 birds, that can mean up to 40 extra eggs per week during the fall and winter months.”

Courtesy  LIGHTimes News Staff