A Wisconsin dairy farm has been awarded a $4.5 million judgement after a five-year legal battle with Xcel Energy over the effects of stray voltage on its cows (read the original Dairy Herd Management article here).
Stray voltage issues have been intensively debated over the past several decades. Farmers claim that cows eat and drink less due to stray voltage. While utilities claim that the electricity conducted into the cows is not powerful enough to hurt them.
Well, why don’t we ask actual cow to determine who is right?
Rumination levels are an excellent way of gaining insight into cow stress. The more stressful an event, the larger the drop in the cow’s rumination will be.
For this purpose, we will compare pen rumination patterns from a farm affected by stray voltage issues (high-power lines run next to pen) to pen rumination patterns in a farm unaffected by stray voltage issues.
Since other, non-stressful events (like eating) may also impact rumination, eating related events have been marked on the graphs below. The graphs display the percent of cows ruminating within a 24-hour period.
Stray Voltage Affected Cows
Stray Voltage Unaffected Cows
What do you think? Case solved? Let us know in the comments below.
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