back to article Grazing cattle display animal magnetism

Researchers have explained why cattle will tend to face the same direction when grazing - a behaviour long known to herdsmen and hunters but previously attributed to either prevailing winds or the sun's position. In fact, Reuters reports, they align their bodies along a north-south axis, suggesting the Earth's magnetic field …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I truly despair of Academics !

    Would it be churlish of me to point out that there is a significant difference between true north and magnetic north ?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_declination#Variation

    Cows north of canada would point south towards magnetic north if this bovine effluent of research were true.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mark_T

    "Would it be churlish of me to point out that there is a significant difference between true north and magnetic north ?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_declination#Variation

    Cows north of canada would point south towards magnetic north if this bovine effluent of research were true."

    Would it be churlish of me to point out that the article talks about "magnetic north", and that the researchers are quite well aware of this fact...?

  3. Michael

    @ Mark T

    Erm, what in that article leads you to believe they're suggesting otherwise?

    Besides which, who the hell herds cows that far north?

  4. Roger Ruffley
    Coat

    Cow shuftiing?

    "In the interests of good science, this hack popped out to have a shufti at a herd of around 20 local cows who were grazing away like good 'uns."

    You were shuftiing at them? Isn't cow worrying a crime?

    Mine's the leather jacket, I'm off for a fillet steak. That's the way I get excited by cows.

  5. j
    Go

    Come on....

    ..how many other people have just gone straight to google earth to check if their bed is aligned east-west or north-south?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Anonymous Coward

    Indeed it would be churlish of you because my point is that they failed to make any scientific case.

    If they had followed up with portable magnets to divert the cows then empirical cause and effect would be proved. Snapshots from Google Earth are utterly meaningless.

    Where did they allow for local magnetic anomalies?

  7. Hollerith

    @Mark_T again

    'Cows north of Canada'. Where would that be? Or is Old Bossy floating by on an ice floe? Canada contains magnetic north within its boundaries. True north sits in international waters in the Arctic Sea. I know the globe is warming, but it would be a plucky Holstein indeed that grazed anywhere near both.

  8. Joe K

    Lazy science

    I was with them up until i saw that this whole thing comes from spending too much time looking at pixels on Google Earth.

    Get out to some fields you lazy sods!

  9. Tim Croydon
    Boffin

    Sun position?

    Did they account for the fact that most of the pictures would have been taken in good daylight, while the shadows are short, i.e. around lunchtime. So, aren't the cows just avoiding staring at the sun (or stopping their rump getting too well done)?

    Better qualification please, "academics".

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Does this mean......

    ....all Big Macs point magnetic north? This'll be handy if you ever get lost in Birmingham and you only have McDonalds around.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    RE: Joe K

    God bless you sir !

    I was starting to think that I was the only one who could see how bogus it all was.

  12. Mark Fenton
    Black Helicopters

    Hurrah!

    Finally proof of my sanity.

    For a fair while now, my family and friends have quietly, and not so quietly, mocked me about my growing paranoia over who cows are always aligned when I see them.

    I shall use this article as proof of my sanity.

    It is still, quite obviously, some bovine conspiricy mind you.

  13. Solomon Grundy
    Linux

    Cows North of Canada

    Non. Those aren't cattle, they are called "reindeer". They are four legged mammals, like cattle, but they are much skinnier and more likely pull sleighs full of midgets, loot, and fat old men.

    Penguin, cause there aren't any of those north of Canada either.

  14. Boring Bob

    The French believe it

    I live in France with a French wife and she has always insisted that the children's beds line-up with the North-South magnetic field. It is a common belief in France that this helps children sleep better.

    The French are a superstitious lot. For example, homoeopathy is really big over here, I very much doubt if it works but I am willing to "believe" all this stuff for the sake of marital harmony.

  15. Geoff Mackenzie

    Let's see a follow up

    Big magnet and a field of cows. Seriously, what they're reporting here is a hypothesis. I can give you a million of those if you don't ask me to make a prediction based on the hypothesis and test it.

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. Frank
    Thumb Up

    IT? - Could be!

    If this is true, and the research seems to indicate that it is, then it could be used as a magnetic data storage device.

    1:The earth's magnetic field is quite weak and could be easily overridden by an array of low power (but large) current carrying loops. Hence, the position of cows, deer, reindeer, etc, could be manipulated and used to store data.

    2: Figure out a way to read the data.

    3. Make money.

    If anyone can see any flaws in this idea, please let me know so I can work on it.

  18. David Cornes
    Coat

    Magnetic alignment?

    I have to say the theory does have it's attraction.

    Coat with the iron filings in the lining...

  19. ShaggyDoggy

    CERN

    I'm hoping that the LHC willdimension jump us into a universe where beer makes you lose fat, curry produces muscle buildup, and smoking improves your lungs.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Frank

    A misplaced bale of hay would probably cause parity errors.

  21. Colin Millar
    Boffin

    Heathens all of you

    There is perfectly rational explanation for this phenomena*

    All cows know that 'magnetic north' is in fact the location of the lost holy city of milk-of-ambrosia (atlantis to you human barbarians) created by the great cow god Hathor.

    South worshiping cows are satanists. East-Westers are just a bunch of atheists.

    * I never said that this would be it

  22. daniel Silver badge
    Boffin

    @Boring Bob

    You should watch the James Randi videos on youtube debunking homeopathy...

    1

    4 rules of homeopathy :

    1) Prooving: Take a substance and give it to a "well person" and note the effects.

    2) Patient walks in to the doc's and has symtpoms corresponding to those effects - so you give them that substance diluted

    3) Dilution: Take 1 part of substance, and dilute in 10 parts of water then "shake not stir". Take 1 part of the diluted mix and recommence... 19 more times

    4) The more you dilute it - the more powerful it is

    Oh, and remember Avogadro's number: After point 4 gets to 24 repeat dilutions, you have 1 chance in 10 of finding 1 molecule or atom in the mixture and some go up to 1500 dilutions - the equivalent of 1 grain of rice diluted in a sphere of water the size of the solar system with the sun in the center and pluto at the edge... then diluted 2 000 000 000 times...

  23. tony trolle

    OT: pigs

    BTW female pigs nearly always sleep on their right side.

  24. Charlie van Becelaere
    Boffin

    Clearly NOT "Animal" Magnetism

    While the "observations" may be accurate, the conclusion drawn therefrom is wholly incorrect.

    As everyone knows, plants are greatly influenced by magnetic fields (cf. The Compleat Works of Anton Mesmer). In these fields (no pun intended) where the cattle are grazing, the grass and other grains have grown in patterns determined by the local magnetic field. Clearly the cattle are simply aligning their teeth with the best approach to the blades of grass.

    Simple, really. I can't imagine why the "academics" didn't realise in the first place.

  25. Focused Wolf

    Just a ****ing theory of mine

    If a animal like a deer or cow faces North or South... then their body's broadside (please look at a picture of a deer if you spend all day at a computer lol) makes effecient contact with the sun as it goes East to West.

    Obvioussly if you spent any time in a cold forest -10-40 degrees (pine trees explode at -10 degrees and ice feels like concrete) like i have (all day started at some 4am or so in morning) then you'd learn to appreciate it when the sun heats you up... Omfg i face East to warm up and i'm not muslim... theirs reason for another scientific study lol.

    Animals are also attracted to certain fields and sides/tops of a hill... they will in fact sleep their... the reason is that's where the sun hits the hill at like 5am or so... And that's where they go when the sun goes down (i know cause i hunt in a area that observes thsi behavior). It's a matter of survival (or just being comfortable) that potentially got converted to pure instinct.

  26. radian
    Coat

    practical modern art

    If anyone here happens to own a flatbed truck, you could be the envy of your mates by being the first to install a bovine compass.

    Simply plonk the cow on a giant turntable and house the cowpass in a glass enclosure, perhaps a small greenhouse.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    WTF?

    What the researchers cannot see on the photos and our good cow botherer didn't apparently document is that the cows are all facing nose into the wind to they don't smell each others methane emanations.

    Paris, 'cuz she's been around cows before.

  28. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
    IT Angle

    @ daniel

    A molecule dissolved intp a solute isn't a molecule. In the samwe way brine is not water.

    As for alignments, it may be an hoax or it might be true. I did hear that powerful magnets can draw a huge amount of live microbes out of a water line and can be used as an initial filtration for recycling drinking water.

    Cows hold huge quantities of microbial denizens in their 1/6 ton of gut. It is very unlikely that any micromagnets will be able to resist other micro-attractors. And that can be quite a field in a field of cattle.

    As a control, in regions where the field is neutral, northern Canada, Australia and South America, the effect should not occur.

    http://gfdi.fsu.edu/Images/Research/04/x50s180e100.jpg

  29. Brian

    WTF?

    "Obvioussly if you spent any time in a cold forest -10-40 degrees (pine trees explode at -10 degrees and ice feels like concrete) like i have (all day started at some 4am or so in morning) then you'd learn to appreciate it when the sun heats you up... Omfg i face East to warm up and i'm not muslim... theirs reason for another scientific study lol."

    Sorry, pine trees do NOT explode spontaneously at -10C or -10F. Of course, that's assuming you're not claiming a mythical -10 K. -10 C (or F) isn't even that cold. Try some -40 (C or F) with a brisk 20mph wind. That is quite chilly indeed. But pine trees still don't explode from the cold.

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