More light: Making life better for people, animals

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MADISON, Wis. – An innovative lighting solution means safer workplaces and less stressful conditions.

It’s well documented that many people get the blues when the days get shorter. People with seasonal affective disorder say that supplemental light helps them feel better. But what about cows?

Scientists now know that long-day lighting has a positive effect on milk production, but does it affect a cow’s well-being?

There’s no proof that cows suffer from seasonal affective disorder, as humans do, explains Gunnar Josefsson, dairy scientist. He said, however, that cows will benefit from improved lighting in barns.

Better lighting. “Cows have very poor depth perception, and will usually balk at a shadowy area on the ground, because they think it is a dangerous hole,” Josefsson said.

Better lighting means that cows may move without being prompted, which means less stress for both the animals and farm workers.

Additionally, improved lighting in barns, which often lack adequate light, will create a safer, more enjoyable working environment for farmers and employees and decrease liability for owners.

“Working in miserable lighting conditions has been part of the farm culture,” Josefsson said. “There are one or two fatalities in Wisconsin each year from falls in or near barns, but many more farmers and workers are injured and lose work hours. Better lighting will help farmers see slippery spots and avoid falls.”

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