Plymouth company’s mood lighting boosts famers’ bottom lines

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Farm Forum

PLYMOUTH, Minn. (AP) – Some poultry and livestock owners are seeing the benefits of agricultural lighting made by a company located just outside Minneapolis.

Plymouth-based firm Once creates LED light bulbs that generate light that seems natural to chickens, turkeys, pigs and other livestock. The company claims the bulbs make the animals happier, healthier and bigger.

Michael Christensen of Flying C Farms near Sleepy Eye told Minnesota Public Radio News (http://bit.ly/1s7gysj ) that his male turkeys have been better behaved since he installed the bulbs about five years ago.

“The calmer bird is going to put on weight better,” he said.

Christensen raises some 80,000 turkeys a year. Even if the bulbs help add just a half-pound to each turkey, they add to his bottom line.

“If you can credit that to lighting, it’s a pretty good payback,” Christensen said. “If I was to build another barn, I would put these in right away.”

Since the bulbs are energy efficient, they also have saved him money on his electric bill.

Once is able to tune lighting for a variety of animals, ranging from foul to fish, according to company CEO Zdenko Grajcar, who studied nuclear physics and astronomy in his native Slovakia.

“We research how that animal sees,” he says, “and what individual colors are stimulating in the animals. And we create a light source mimicking that.”

The bulbs can be adjusted to mimic sunrises and sunsets, as well as seasons, so a farmer could make it seem like it’s summer year-round.

Grajcar said technology that’s currently in its early stages can even manipulate the sex of an embryo in an incubating egg.

“We can decide that we will have all of the animals female or all of the animals male, by light,” he said.

Once has sold its bulbs to about 800 customers, including the poultry giant, Perdue.