25 September 2008

cow magnetism

three cows, originally uploaded by McBeth.

I'm sure there must be all kinds of studies done on cows because, well, there are an awful lot of cows grazing around the globe right now so it'd make sense that if something exists somewhere, someone will start picking it apart to figure it out, including cows. But the one that recently caught my attention and a good deal of my chin stroking rumination time recently is this one. Someone wanted to know if cows responded to the Earth's magnetic North<-->South pull. So they found a way to start counting heads, researched it, and were pleased to announce that yes indeed, cows gravitate to the magnetic north.

We marked the cattle’s longitudinal axis by drawing a straight line with the Powerpoint drawing tools and estimated for each animal separately its direction to the nearest 5° by overlaying a circular scale with 10° steps.

I find this news not only fascinating, but deeply gratifying. All these years I've noticed this phenomena -and in southern Wisconsin there is ample opportunity for cow watching. I figured I was making too much out of it, or that I just kept seeing random occurrences and making up associations to suit myself. I do like making things up into far more fanciful compounds than they really need be. If I didn't, though, I'd get terrifically bored. But as it turns out this time I wasn't making anything up after all!

I'd love to see the extrapolated research on cow magnetism.

For instance, would it make sense, then, that if cows gravitate to magnetic North we could assume the cows would feel most natural, most comfortable pointed that direction? And if that's true, then would construction of the barns and milking houses based on the magnetic directional pull, specifically during those times the cows are standing to be milked or are eating, cause any difference in the milk production and the general contentment of the herd?

My mother tells me a story about old farming relatives, or it might possibly be farmer friends of my farming relatives. The specific 'who' is less important than the action, though, so lets agree not to pick nits about that one thing. The men of the family had to do something, go somewhere, be away from the farm for a few days, so the women of the family took over the outdoor chores, including milking the cows. The women sang while they worked, which the cows apparently loved, because their milk production increased several fold. There's another local guy, loveable salt of the earth musician farmer guy, who performs violin concerts for his cows. The cows have not written one bad review yet.

I'm not sure I can write a coherent explanation to express my impression, but might this magnetic pull on cows research might also support the argument for string theory and quantum physics? If this magnetic property exists in cows, then what other animals are similarly affected, and why does it happen? If it is true of humans then what might be the manifestations of a magnetic pull on us?

Next cow research I'll be scoping out will be evidence to support my theory that in every herd there will always be one cow evacuating its bladder or bowels when you pass by them at 55mph.

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