Cattle respond to magnetic fields from power lines

Mar 16, 2009 By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID , AP Science Writer

(AP) -- High-voltage power lines mess with animal magnetism. Researchers, who reported last year that most cows and deer tend to orient themselves in a north-south alignment, have now found that power lines can disorient the animals.

When the run east-west, that's the way grazing cattle tend to line up, researchers led by Hynek Burda and Sabine Begall of the faculty of biology at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany report in Tuesday's edition of .

They also found that and deer grazing under northeast-southwest or northwest-southeast power lines faced in .

The research team studied cows and deer using satellite and aerial images.

In their report last August, Burda and colleagues suggested the north-south orientation was in response to the Earth's .

The new study adds weight to the animals responding to , since power lines also produce a magnetic field. And the effect was most noticeable close to the power lines, declining as the magnetic field of the electric lines was reduced by distance.

Wind and weather can also affect which ways cows choose to face, but without such factors about two-thirds of them tended to align north-south when away from power lines.

The Earth's magnetic field is thought to be a factor in how birds navigate, and other animals also are believed to respond to it.

In addition to Burda and Begall, the research team included Julia Neef of the University of Duisburg-Essen, Jaroslav Cerveny of the Czech University of Life Sciences and Pavel Nemec of Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.

The research was supported by the Czech Science Foundation and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport of the Czech Republic.


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User comments : 9

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3 / 5 (2) Mar 17, 2009
Tag as hoax.
3 / 5 (2) Mar 17, 2009
AP nonsense hoax to stir up the willfully blissful.
3 / 5 (2) Mar 17, 2009
Almost certainly this study contains errors, eg. they've missed some alternative explanation. 1) the magnetic field surrounding a transmission line (alternates polarity 50 to 60 times per second) is in no way similar to that of the earth (fixed and stationary). The authors need to explain why it might be that any hypothetical biological sensor system evolved to sense earth's stationary magnetic field could be re-oriented to a different direction with a superimposed AC field. 2) the EM wavelength of a 50 hz powerline is in the range of 6000 km, and any antenae tuned to receive it would need to be at least some close fraction of that length. Cows fall far short.

As a boy growing up on the farm, I always noticed that cows would align themselves to sleep facing into a wind. Never ever saw that change due to the powerline which supplied the farm.
5 / 5 (2) Mar 17, 2009
The study doesn't address the most fundamental, important question of all...

"Do powerline affected cows taste the same?"

That's all that matters in the end...
1 / 5 (1) Mar 17, 2009
Mooo. Moooooooo-ooo
4 / 5 (1) Mar 17, 2009
icester..depends on weather you broil it or microwave it.
5 / 5 (1) Mar 17, 2009
And does a West-East alignment decrease milk and meat yield? If not I don't see why we should care.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 22, 2009
Leukemia around High Tension power lines is a known and recorded point in Medical science. Except the recording of such data is largely ignored, as it's just a bit too close to the commercial and political interests when it comes to understanding it as a problem that needs repair or considering.

Man and animal are chemical-electrical..thus-magnetic sensitivity is fundamental... and that, dear boys, is a good chunk of the fundamental of biological function---PERIOD.

You guys are suffering from severe engineering mindset enforced reductionism. Engineers are not scientists. They are technicians with slightly bigger toolboxes. Leave the reasoning to people who are capable of it.

Your own form of willfully ignorant, it is. Your own particular method of achieving a self created form of religious ignorance. In this case, if it is not in your little journals-it is not real.


Same nutbar-different suit-different associates and 'club' of buddies that act as reflective 'yesmen'.
not rated yet Mar 23, 2009
KBK-i generally ignore such bigoted arrogant dribble such as yours but i cant resist...since you seem to think of yourself as a scientist capable of reasoning beyond our (engineers and technicians) abilities how come it hasnt occured to you that perhaps its not the em field causing elevated levels of whatever biological adversity you wish to atribute to it, but perhaps,and im only hipothesising, its due to low but elevated levels of ozone from corona discharge. Not saying it is but id be more inclined to investigate that before i jump to the conclusions you seem to wish to cling to.We have been immersed by 60hz (and 50)EM fields for over 100 years and we dont all have leukemia.
As to the story,its a very interesting observation and worthy of research but too soon for conclusions.
but what do i know? im just a mere engineer...i cant think!

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