When I was looking at photos of wind farms a little while ago, the question of how wind turbines affect cattle crossed my mind. So, I did some digging to find out if wind turbines could negatively affect the livestock that cohabits the wind farm.
Do wind turbines affect cattle? Wind turbines have been reported to have adverse effects on the many species of wildlife around them including eating, sleeping, and reproductive disorders. However, there has been no concrete evidence to support any of these claims.
Cattle and farm animals frequently occupy the same land that new wind turbines are being built on every single day since the machines don’t require much space to operate. Could the close proximity of wind turbines really be negatively affecting these animals, or did the recent events just happen to be coincidences?
The Connection between Wind Turbines and Cattle
Over the many years that more wind turbines have shown up in various regions across the world, there have been almost an equal amount of reports that the animals in nearby farms and ecosystems have suffered major damages from the new machines.
One of the biggest reasons that wind turbines end up in the same fields as local cows is the fact that the owners of the farms will commonly rent out their land for local wind turbine owners to use.
This can generate a substantial yearly income for the landowner by just simply allowing someone else to build a machine on their property while paying a set monthly rent payment while it is in use.
Although there are certain distance requirements between the wind turbines and any kind of building or another machine around them, there is no limit to where the cattle can roam across the fields. In fact, the animals will often graze in the grass right at the bottom of the wind turbines with no interference at all.
Additionally, there can be as many wind turbines on the same land as the animals with no proven adverse effects. In fact, entire wind farms can be combined with cattle farms and nothing will change as far as the turbines’ efficiencies as well as the animals’ health and behavior.
However, there have been numerous reports of these newly placed wind turbines causing negative effects on the animals around them that were not present before they appeared.
Some of these reports have been appalling, telling stories of the wind machines causing a staggeringly high death toll among livestock on existing farms that host the turbines within the proximity of the animals that live there.
This has been a very common belief for decades, basically ever since the concept of wind turbines became popular. There are countless stories that can be found on the internet that depict scenarios of farm animals behaving strangely or even dying after wind turbines arrived on the scene.
The farmers and landowners could not put their fingers on the exact cause of death, so the blame fell on the only thing that changed in the environment: the wind turbines.
The Daily Behavior of Wind Turbines
In order for wind turbines to produce energy from the wind, there are a variety of processes that they will go through on a daily basis in order to carry out this task. The main function of a wind turbine is to spin its blades in a circular motion while collecting the wind’s kinetic energy and taking it in to convert it into electricity.
This process, however, can potentially be disturbing to any cattle and livestock that might share the field with one or more wind turbines. Even residential-size wind turbines that are significantly smaller than larger utility-grade machines with much higher energy capacities will stand very tall in the air and have extremely heavy rotor blades.
Each rotor blade on the average wind turbine will have an approximate length of 40 to 50 feet on its own. As a result, the turbines will often make loud buzzing noises as they spin throughout the air.
This is due to the high speeds that the wind turbines are capable of reaching in blade rotation. On average, a smaller-scale wind turbine can turn its blades at speeds to up to 100 miles per hour. For larger turbines with several megawatts of energy capacity can reach close to 200 miles per house while rotating.
When the blades are gliding through the air at rapid speeds and creating a turbulence in the air, these actions will more than likely be accompanied by a loud sweeping noise throughout the atmosphere. The blades are like the machine’s arms, and with a longer reach, they are able to harness more of the wind’s energy with each rotation.
As a result, it is ideal for wind turbines to have extended blades and most of them will be constructed in this way for maximum efficiency.
Luckily, wind turbines do go through certain periods where their blades are not spinning at all, therefore giving off no noise or sound waves to the environment around it. This is due to the fact that the blades spin according to the speeds of the wind, so during times with little to no wind, the blades will not rotate nearly as quickly as they would with fast wind speeds.
Although wind turbines are not constantly spinning at such rapidly fast speeds during their entire lifetime, the machines still have a relatively high-efficiency rate. It is estimated that the average wind turbine will spin and create energy from the wind up to 85 percent of its entire lifetime.
This is bad news for the nearby wildlife because the more efficiency that the wind turbines are able to generate translates to more spinning time as well as more frequent noises.
How Wind Turbines have been reported to affect Farm Animals
Wind turbines consist of multiple different components within them that allow the blades to spin and generate electricity from the wind. The size of the blades is often massive, relative to the length of the turbine towers themselves, which can add up to hundreds of feet.
Since the turbine’s blades are so large, they often make loud buzzing noises while reacting to the wind and rotating about their towers, very similar to the sound of a helicopter as the closest comparison.
These buzzing noises have been reported to transmit harmful infrasound rays to the nearby animals, causing negative effects on the way they behave throughout the day overall. There was a hugely popular story that emerged several years ago as told by a goat farmer in Taiwan.
The farmer claimed that shortly after a series of wind turbines were installed adjacent to his fields of goats, four hundred of them suddenly died all at the same time. He had discovered the hundreds of dead animals laid out on the grass on their sides when they had been walking around carrying out their normal functions just the day before the incident.
However, the same farmer revealed within the same report that his goats had not been displaying normal behavior in the time leading up to the events. Ever since the new wind farm had been built across the field, the goats had not been following their usual routines.
This included their sleeping, eating, drinking patterns, all of which affected their growth patterns over a longer period of time. The farmer swore that the wind turbines were to blame for the strange activity that ended with fatal consequences, causing him to lose hundreds of his animals in just one short period after they began their functions in the nearby area.
Similarly, there was a French farmer that ended up filing a lawsuit against a local wind energy company following the damage that was inflicted onto his fields of cows. He claimed that his animals had become sick from the sounds that were let out by the nearby wind turbines, which affected their production of milk.
They had lost the desire to drink as much water as they needed on a daily basis in order to generate the same amount of milk as they usually did, so the dairy farm’s overall milk output dropped significantly. Due to the financial losses that the farmer suffered that were assumed to be caused by the wind turbines, he decided to take legal action against those who placed the machines within the vicinity of his animals.
How farm animals react to the effects of new wind turbines
There were several other reports made by multiple farmers all across the world following this one, reporting that their animals were behaving very strangely in response to their new environments. The only thing that was different in each of these situations was the implementation of new wind turbines at a very close distance to where the animals ate, slept, and walked around.
These animals had suffered altered sleeping patterns and showed little desire to eat or drink water which, in return, affected their overall growth and development. Additionally, they were unable to effectively reproduce, with multiple miscarriages and stillbirths among many different species of animals all across the globe.
There was a study that was completed during this time where an influx of claims were flooding the internet of the effect that wind turbines have on cattle and other farm animals. A scientist named Nina Pierpont wrote an entire book titled Wind Turbine Syndrome, that summarized the events that were happening on different wind farms in various locations across the world.
More specifically, she studied the effects that wind turbines had on the reproductive systems of various different types of animals to assess the connection of wind farms and livestock fatalities.
One of the specific cases that was outlined in the book followed horses on a farm that were frequently miscarrying their children. The farmer that took care of the horses had never seen anything like it, at least not as often as it was happening since the wind turbines had been built in the distance.
The same horses that were actually able to give birth to their children were not able to feed them properly. Similarly, there was another story that Pierpont reported on involving chickens on an entirely separate farm. These chickens were suffering a different type of reproductive issue.
They did not miscarry or fail to carry out a healthy pregnancy, but they actually began laying eggs with no shells around them.
Scientific evidence supporting the negative effects of wind turbines on cattle
Despite the huge increase in stories about the sound emissions of wind turbines traveling to the nearby cattle and disrupting their everyday functions, there has not been any solid scientific evidence supporting these theories so far.
Even though each of these farms that were previously mentioned were in completely different areas of the world and had a diverse selection of farm animals that were affected, there has still been no proof to back these claims.
Although there have been multiple claims of wind turbines harming livestock scattered across the world, there are far more situations where animals calmly coexist with the wind machines. There are hundreds more stories of wind turbines having negative effects on farm animals than there are positive ones, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is happening all over the world.
The belief that wind turbines give off sound rays that are harmful to the nearby cows and horses that graze in the fields below them is a myth that has been busted time and time again. There simply just has not been enough scientific evidence to prove any kind of connection between animal death and injury and wind energy machines. Really, there hasn’t been any evidence to support this.
With the absence of specific research showing us that wind turbines do, in fact, cause harm to cattle and other animals on wind farms, we are left with the choice of believing the stories or doubting them completely. However, the common variable in all of these stories is one thing: the added presence of wind turbines.
Do wind turbines really kill birds?
Yes. Wind turbines have been proven to account for approximately 300,000 bird fatalities in various locations throughout the year. They have also caused multiple deaths to other flying animals like bats, who suffer three-fourths of all annual fatalities at the hands of spinning wind turbines. Both of these flying species will either get stuck in the blades as they are rotating or explode in mid-air due to the high amounts of pressure caused by the turbulence.
Although there are so many confirmed deaths that are caused to birds by wind turbines every year, it is a common argument that there are not enough turbine deaths in order to offer a solution to the problem. More specifically, the total deaths by wind turbine for all species of birds account for a very small percentage of their overall deaths throughout the entire year, so people in the wind turbine industry do not see proper cause to change any protocols to remedy this issue.
Are there any toxic emissions given off by wind turbines?
In some cases, wind turbines have been known to house certain materials within their inner components that are made of rare earth minerals. These minerals are mostly mined for in China and have very toxic properties that cause adverse effects on the environment in which they are acquired.
Although the United States does not directly see environmental damage from wind turbines, the materials that are used to build some of them result in huge toxic lakes across the world in the Chinese cities they came from.
While it is true that wind turbines can be made from these rare earth minerals, it is also true that wind turbines that use these materials only account for approximately 2 percent of all turbines across the entire world. So, even though these materials are sometimes found in turbines, it is a more rare occurrence than some people would like to admit.
Is there any way to prevent adverse effects on animals by wind turbines?
There have been various suggestions to remedy the high percentages of bird and bat deaths that are caused by wind turbines. Since they are usually attracted to the machines due to the number of bugs that fly toward the reflective surfaces, it has been proposed that they should be painted purple instead. It was scientifically proven that the color purple was less likely to attract large amounts of bugs toward its surface when the sunlight was reflecting off of it.
As a result, this would be more likely to keep flying predators further away from the turbines because there would be no specific reason for them to stay around the area. As far as the damage that is done to farm animals, there has been no suggested remedy or solution as of yet since no connection between the two has been proven scientifically.
If you’re serious about learning more about wind energy, I recommend the Wind Energy Handbook on Amazon. This book is great for both students and professionals, and it holds invaluable information on the subject of wind power.