12 July 2002

Flickering lights cause of stress

FLICKERING fluorescent lights are often annoying in the farm office, but they can also be a source of stress for pigs and poultry in artificially lit buildings.

A study at the Silsoe Research Institute set out to investigate whether poultry are sensitive to flicker from fluorescent lights, researcher Neville Prescott told Royal Show visitors.

"Birds were presented with two lights and trained to press one which flickered to dispense feed. The frequency of the flickering was changed until birds could no longer tell the difference between a static and flickering light."

This revealed birds could tell the difference at 88hz, much higher than 40-45hz for the average person, suggesting a potential source of stress. However, birds cannot detect the flicker from well-maintained lights which operate at 100hz, said Dr Prescott.

Dr Prescott is now investigating whether pigs are sensitive to flickering lights. &#42