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The Best LED Lights for Dairy Barns & Milking Parlors
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The Best LED Lights for Dairy Barns & Milking Parlors

If you’re a dairy farmer, you already know that cows are incredibly sensitive animals to lighting. The LED dairy lights that you choose can make a huge difference in your cows’ quality of life, their milk production, and your bottom line!

Here, we break down the optimal barn lights and milking parlor lighting – and why it matters for your operations.

Tips for the Best Lighting for Dairy Cows

Known for energy efficiency and custom options, the following tips are the industry standard for dairy farm lights:

  • Yellow and white lights (optional: red at night)
  • Kept on 16 hours per day
  • 162-215 lux (i.e., 15-20 foot candles).
  • Installation 3 feet above the stall surface
  • Spaced at 1.5 times the mounting height

The Health Benefits of LED Dairy Lights

If cows are kept under 24-hour light, farmers report lower fertility and milk production. Stick to the recommended 16 hours (or greater hours of darkness for dry cows) to improve reproduction rates, reduce stress reduction, and boost immune system function.

The right barn lighting helps to: 

  • Mimic natural sunlight patterns 

  • Regulate cows’ biological rhythms 

  • Maintain dairy cows’ health 

  • Increase worker & animal safety 

  • Decrease milk contamination

  • Create a more comfortable environment 

While longer hours of artificial daylight increases food intake, anything above the recommended 16-18 hours can disturb circadian rhythm and decrease fertility. As natural sunlight increases throughout the day. Therefore, LED dairy lights should help mimic natural sunlight patterns and regulate cows’ biological patterns. 

Exposure to the right dairy barn lighting has been linked to increased milk yield, increased reproduction rates, and reduced instances of stress and anxiety. During winter months (when natural sunlight is limited), it’s fairly simple for dairy farmers to increase “daylight” exposure.  Daylight-mimicking LED lighting has been shown to reduce stress and increase milk production by positively affecting the cows' melatonin levels and circadian rhythms.

What’s the Right LED Wattage for Dairy Barns?

While farmers require a certain level of lighting, cows find excessive brightness stressful. It’s about striking the right balance: between 160-200 lux. This will prevent dark areas that lead to injuries and sanitation issues while increasing animal comfort.

At night, dairy cows can be kept under 50 lux, which is about the same as a moonlit night. Some farmers prefer using red lights (around 15 watts) spaced at 20-30 feet intervals. Some think of this as a “cow night light.”

What Color Lights Are Better for Dairy Cows?

kelvin light temperature chart showing 1000 to 10000K


The best color temperature for dairy cows is somewhere between 5500K and 6500K (AKA the "daylight" range). By making up for the lack of natural light, you’ll create a better environment for cows to be more active and exhibit natural behaviors.

Avoid Blue LED Lights

Like many mammals, cows have two color receptors. Their dichromatic vision allows them to see greens and blues on the light spectrum, not red. Yellow and white LED lights are typically preferred by dairy farmers.

Blue LED lights may decrease milk production and raise cortisol (i.e., stress) levels. Farmers need to adapt to cows’ visible spectrum in order to decrease their stress and encourage better behaviors.

vapor tight led light fixture

Note: A vapor-tight LED light is best for dusty areas like barns. 

What’s the Best Lighting for Dry Cows?

two holstein dairy cow calves staring from barn

It’s recommended to keep dry cows in lit, well-ventilated spaces for just 8 hours per day, leaving them in darker spaces the rest of the day. Lights should only be turned on for inspection, cleaning, and bedding. We recommend installing a lower-wattage light source (with a separate switch) in a corner or separate room.

What’s the Best Lighting for Lactating Cows?

A lactating cow that receives 16 hours of lighting per day can produce nearly 4 pounds more milk per day than a cow kept under natural lighting.

The Best Wattage for Dairy Barns

With the right milking parlor design, farmers are able to observe animal behavior better (e.g., spot signs of distress, injury, infection). Farm workers can also lower the risk of milk contamination.

For areas requiring better illumination, 50 foot candles should be installed near udders to minimize shadows. This can help the milking team identify potential issues with milk color and consistency.

The Best LED Lights for Milking Parlors

A brighter space is more welcoming to dairy cows, so draw livestock in by increasing your milking parlor’s lighting intensity. Since they’ll be exposed to kicks, urine, manure, high-pressure washing, and chemicals, we recommend low bay lighting with shatterproof casing (and flush mount fixtures).

10,800 Lumen 4 ft LED Low Bay light

It’s Time to Switch to LED Dairy Lighting

To improve animal welfare, sustainability, and productivity, we’re proud to provide the highest-quality LED lights that meet dairy farmers’ exacting standards.

1. Lower Energy Bills

As energy and feed costs increase – and profit margins get slimmer – farmers need to increase their ROI. If LEDs help the average household save $225 in energy costs every year, imagine reducing your farm’s lighting bills by up to 75%!

2. Longer Lifespans

Leaving operational lights on for 16 hours per day would require numerous lightbulb changes per year. LEDs would need replacing in approximately 7.5 years (compared to a 2-month lifespan for incandescent bulbs).

LED, Flourescent, Incandescent, metal halide bulb change chart.  LEDS last 15 years

3. Increased Safety

Animal kicks, flying equipment, and dust require durable, shatterproof, and waterproof lights. These LED barn lights are designed to withstand urine, manure, and daily wear. Reducing shadows also helps farm staff spot injuries, infections, and health hazards more easily.

Because LED farm lights generate lower temperatures than traditional bulbs, they drastically reduce the risk of fire.

4. Better Control

Dairy cows are extremely sensitive to light. Many LEDs turn on in an instant, can be made dimmable, and offer directional lighting (rather than incandescent bulbs that emit lighting in all directions).

Lumen Right for All of Your Livestock Lighting Needs

lumen right led light logo

Fluorescent and incandescent bulbs just don’t meet farm life’s incredible demands. With rising operation costs and thin margins, you need agriculture lights that work for you. Lumen Right’s range of LED lighting works almost anywhere – and these US-made lights also come with a 10-year warranty! 



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