Artificial lighting in poultry houses: do hens perceive the modulation of fluorescent lamps as flicker?

Br Poult Sci. 1992 Mar;33(1):123-33. doi: 10.1080/00071669208417449.


1. Many poultry houses are illuminated by fluorescent lamps which produce discontinuous illumination with a frequency of either 100 or 120 Hz. 2. This study investigated whether domestic fowls perceive this discontinuity as flicker by training two Leghorn hens to choose between a continuous and a discontinuous light, all other variables being identical. 3. The light-stimulus was either monochromatic with 100% sinusoidal modulation or a fluorescent lamp whose modulation frequency could be electrically adjusted. 4. Each (correct) choice for the discontinuous light was followed by a 5 Hz higher frequency, whereas an incorrect choice was followed by a 10 Hz lower frequency. 5. On the basis of this principle the animals themselves established the highest perceivable frequency of the discontinuous light, called the Critical Fusion Frequency (CFF), that they could discriminate from continuous light. 6. These frequencies typically depend on the stimulus intensity increasing with increasing intensities, until a maximum value is reached. 7. Two factors limited the magnitudes of the CFF's that were recorded: the maximum stimulus intensities produced and variability in the chicken's response ("behavioural noise"). In spite of these constraints 105 Hz was established as the maximum CFF. 8. On the basis of extrapolation it is concluded that the direct light from fluorescent lamps driven by 50 Hz alternating current is seen by the chicken as flickering. 9. The results justify large-scale comparison of behaviour and production in poultry houses that are illuminated either by low-frequency or by high-frequency fluorescent lamps.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Classical
  • Female
  • Fluorescence*
  • Housing, Animal
  • Lighting*
  • Microcomputers
  • Visual Perception*