Source: www.photos-for-you.comNew developments on magnetic cows which you may not be aware of.
Three years ago, Sabine Begall and colleagues at the University of Duisberg-Essen in Germany published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which suggested that cows have a statistically significant preference for aligning themselves in a north-south direction, oriented to the magnetic north rather than the geographical pole. They found a similar preference in deer. They concluded that the animals must be sensing the Earth’s magnetic field.
Begall’s team used Google Earth to analyse the orientation of 8,510 cattle at 308 sites around the globe. For the deer they conducted field work in the Czech Republic, observing 2,974 grazing fallow and roe deer in 241 locations as well as checking body prints left by deer resting in the snow.
For more details, including a lively and interesting set of comments on the subject see this Nature article: ‘Magnetic cows’ are visible from space.’
In 2009 they published a follow-up paper
Here, we show that extremely low-frequency magnetic fields (ELFMFs) generated by high-voltage power lines disrupt alignment of the bodies of these animals with the geomagnetic field. Body orientation of cattle and roe deer was random on pastures under or near power lines. Moreover, cattle exposed to various magnetic fields directly beneath or in the vicinity of power lines trending in various magnetic directions exhibited distinct patterns of alignment. The disturbing effect of the ELFMFs on body alignment diminished with the distance from conductors. These findings constitute evidence for magnetic sensation in large mammals as well as evidence of an overt behavioural reaction to weak ELFMFs in vertebrates. The demonstrated reaction to weak ELFMFs implies effects at the cellular and molecular levels.
Earlier this year, Lukas Jelinek and other researchers at the Czech Technical University in Prague reported that they had been unable to replicate these results using different Google Earth images.
This paper presents a study of the body orientation of domestic cattle on free pastures in several European states, based on the Google satellite photographs. In sum, 232 herds with 3,412 individuals were evaluated. Two independent groups participated in our study and came to the same conclusion that in contradiction to the recent findings of other researchers, no alignment of the animals and of their herds along geomagnetic field lines could be found.
Burda and colleagues reanalysed the replication attempt and, according to this account in Nature, they concluded that half of their data should be excluded ‘because some of the pastures are on slopes or near high-voltage power lines, for example, or because the images are too poor to make out cattle, or appear to contain hay bales or sheep instead.’
Looking forward to further developments.
’Animal Attraction’: Like compass needles, cows point north-south /The Economist
Cow magnets are popular with dairy farmers and veterinarians to help prevent Hardware Disease in cattle. While grazing, cows eat everything from grass and dirt to nails, staples and bits of bailing wire (referred to as tramp iron). Tramp iron tends to lodge in the honeycombed walls of the reticulum, threatening the surrounding vital organs and causing irritation and inflammation, known as Hardware Disease. The cow loses her appetite and decreases milk output (dairy cows), or her ability to gain weight (feeder stock). Cow magnets help prevent this disease by attracting stray metal from the folds and crevices of the rumen and reticulum. One magnet works for the life of the cow!
Ru-Master 5 Cow Magnet
The Ultimate Heavy-Duty Cow Magnet!
Patent No. 5128644
Measures 3/4” dia. x 3-3/8” long
Burda responded to this suggestion as follows:
‘Regarding cow magnets and the idea that they would align in the cow’s stomach Note that this practice is not common (mostly also unknown) in most countries where we made recordings. For sure, none of the deer we observed had it in its stomach. Do the people really think that a small piece of magnet (which does not freely align on a table) would freely align like a magnetic needle in a full stomach? And if so would the cow perceive its movements?’
See Steve Spangler’s science video on Cow Magnets on You Tube
SEE OTHER ANIMAL POSTS ON THE GENERALIST