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Stray voltage in farm animals

Inra Prod.Anim., 22 (4), 291-302


AgroParisTech, Département Sciences de la Vie et Santé, 16 rue Claude Bernard, F-75231 Paris, France


Modern farming techniques involve an increasing use of electrical and electronic equipment together with metallic features which can be responsible for stray-voltage. Stray-voltage, less than 10 volts, is often due to a faulty connection between the electrical circuit and the earth. Animals, due to a lower electrical resistance than humans, are more sensitive to these low voltages. Moreover, direct contact of the muzzle and hooves with often wet surroundings reduces their resistance to electric current, whereas in man, the fact of wearing protective gloves and rubber boots increases this resistance.

In farms, when animal behaviour modifications, deterioration of health status or reductions in production are observed, stray-voltage is sometimes implicated. However, experiments conducted under controlled conditions rarely show the effects of stray-voltage on production parameters. Nevertheless, some behavioural and physiological changes, probably related to the presence of stress, are often observed.

The unpredictability of stray-voltage and the great variability in the response to stray-voltage exposure make diagnosis and characterisation of its effects in farm animals difficult.

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