Cattle respond to magnetic fields from power lines

(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.

---

On the Net:

PNAS: http://www.pnas.org

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Explore further

Report links power lines to cancer

Citation: Cattle respond to magnetic fields from power lines (2009, March 16) retrieved 10 April 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2009-03-cattle-magnetic-fields-power-lines.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments