Further cow magnetic alignment findings

There are further findings in the ongoing international detective effort to understand the extent to which cows are inclined to align themselves more or less magnetically. A new study presents details:

Cattle on pastures do align along the North-South axis, but the alignment depends on herd density,” Pavel Slaby, Kateřina Tomanova, M. Vacha, Journal of Comparative Physiology A, epub May 23, 2013. The authors, at Masaryk University, Czech Republic, report:

“Magnetic alignment represents the simplest directional response to the geomagnetic field and a growing body of evidence of animals aligning their body positions according to geomagnetic lines whether at rest or during feedings is accumulating. Recently, with the aid of Google Earth application, evidence of prevailing North-South (N-S) body orientation of cattle on pastures was published (Begall et al. PNAS 105:13451-13455, 2008; Burda et al. PNAS 106:5708-5713, 2009). Nonetheless, a subsequent study from a different laboratory did not confirm this phenomenon (Hert et al. J Comp Physiol A 197:677-682, 2011). The aim of our study was to enlarge the pool of independently gained data on this remarkable animal behavior. By satellite snapshots analysis and using blinded protocol we scored positions of 2,235 individuals in 74 herds. Our results are in line with the original findings of prevailing N-S orientation of grazing cattle. In addition, we found that mutual distances between individual animals within herds (herd density) affect their N-S preference-a new phenomenon giving some insight into biological significance of alignment.”

(Thanks to investigator Mark Dionne for bringing this to our attention.)