Importance and management of light

In countries with mild climatic conditions and ideal for our birds, this allows them to be reared outdoors or with sufficient light in a room thanks to the sun.
It is different in other countries and depending on the period or the breeder decides to mate his birds. Sometimes to make this period coincide with the holidays or others.

In this article, I describe solutions that I know to overcome the lack of light and give the right conditions to our birds according to the different periods of their life in our breeding rooms.

1. What lighting brings

Suitable artificial lighting can ensure the activation of vitamin D3 essential for the growth of young zebrafinch.
Vitamin D3 deficiency can result in a misshapen or limp beak or paw. Conversely, do not overdo the administration of vitamin supplements which will produce even more harmful effects.

2. What we are looking for when managing the light

This makes it possible to be able to breed in the unfavorable seasons to recreate the ideal conditions. Simulate in some ways at best which will stimulate the birds to reproduction or to rest.
In winter, prolonging the light can also give birds more time to feed in order to withstand low temperatures (I am thinking of the case of outdoor breeding).
Conversely, reducing the length of the day can help calm a bird. For example, an overly excited male who destroys the nest to start a new lay. Giving it a break in a dark place can temper it before another attempt.
The changes in brightness duration between 2 periods must be gradual. Too abrupt a change can cause false moult or unusual behavior. A change of 5 minutes per day is suitable. You will notice as changes in behavior, excitations during the increase of this duration.

3. Solutions to manage light

a) Cycle with 2 programmers and 1 night light

The most economical will be to use 2 programmers (mechanical or electronic) and a night light.

Programmateur mecanique Programmateur electronique

Mechanical programmers get out of hand over time, so I recommend the more precise electronic model.

So let's go on a cycle set up with this material. 1 managing the neon (s) (programmer n° 1), 1 managing the bulb (s) (programmer n° 2):

- The programmer n° 1 will manage the lighting of the neon (s) during the day, either for additional light or simulation of the day if you are raising in a room that does not benefit from an opening to the outside.
- The programmer n° 2 connected to the bulb (s) will have the role of warning that the neon lights go out in the evening and that they come on in the morning. It will be necessary to choose low-power bulbs adapted to the size of your breeding room and still allowing the birds to see enough to set up for the night.
- Finally, you can add a night light for a night light to reduce the stress of the birds.

Cycle avec 2 programmateurs et 1 veilleuse a

Maintaining a regular cycle will provide important benchmarks that will help ensure the serenity of your birds.

On the other hand, good management of quality lighting is not enough in itself. For example, for optimum preparation for mating, the prolongation of the day should be accompanied by a suitable diet (richer in vitamin etc.) and baths.

b) Cycle with a dimmer

2e more expensive but undoubtedly more reliable and comfortable solution which consists in installing a dimmer.

I advise you to choose a model which retains the settings (with an internal battery) and which restarts automatically by resuming the settings that you have carefully put in place after a possible power cut.
The principles of light management remain the same as in the first solution described below.

Taking for example the dimmer that I own from Besser Elektronik model gold Star, you will have several interesting options:

- All times are independently adjustable
- Dawn and sunset lights are adjustable
- Possibility of automatic extension or reduction of the day
- Switch on the lighting for a night inspection
- Light sensor (not to be used, for my part, to avoid flashing neon lights)

Here is an example of assembly :

Principe de montage eclairage piece d elevage

Installing your dimmer near the entrance / exit of your room will also be practical.

4. Adapt the brightness time according to the periods

What periods should we distinguish ?
Rest, moulting, preparation for mating, breeding, weaning, preparation for competitions.

I recommend the following durations according to these periods :

- Rest: 10 hours
- Moulting: It occurs when the duration of light decreases (end of July, beginning of August), 10 hours minimum
- Preparation for mating: Go gradually (example: 5 minutes per day) to a maximum of 14 hours
- Breeding and weaning: 14 hours. This ensures a long duration of nourishment for the development of the young
- Preparation for the competition: From 10 to 14 hours, the most important thing will be to avoid any variation in the duration of the light to avoid false moulting (Other factors can also cause it, see this article: False moult, causes, effects and remedies)

5. What neon are used ?

There are special full spectrum neon lights designed to give the right UVA and UVB rays.

Be careful to change the neon lights every 10 months ! I have already encountered pecking and nervous behavior concerns for not having changed the neon lights within this period of time that I advise. With aging, neon lights produce a flicker which is imperceptible to our eyes but which birds are sensitive to. This can interfere with good reproduction.
According to the reference article cited at the end of the article, it is necessary to choose a color temperature of the neon lights between 5500 °K and 6600 °K. Using ill-adapted lighting, for example too bright (used in egg farms), can cause repeated egg-laying, which will tire your birds.

6. Conclusion

As we can see, the light governs the behavior and periods that we want to impose on our zebrafinch.
Finally, well-thought-out lighting will highlight your birds, for your viewing pleasure. And will allow you to see small changes in behavior, the consistency or colors of the droppings, an injured paw or wing that can warn you in order to act as quickly as possible, thanks to the right lighting !
Despite everything, my feeling is that artificial lighting should remain a complement to a window or other opening to the sun.

Bibliography : Benefits of UVB Lighting for Companion Birds


Tony Lombard, amateur breeder of selection.
Article published in 2019.


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