Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this


Can chickens provide early warnings of wind turbine health dangers?


By Miriam Raftery
August 21, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Like those proverbial canaries in the coal mine, chickens near wind farms may provide early clues to potential harm to health of humans and animals. That’s the contention of Hamish Cumming, a farmer battling proposed wind turbines near his home in Australia.


He has written a letter to East County Magazine seeking help from people living near wind farms locally (and in other locations) to document cases of shell-less eggs, dead chickens, or other animals that suffer internal hemmorrhaging.



The “humble chicken” is common in rural areas near wind farms and can be easily monitored, Cumming says. Chickens under stress may produce a soft-shelled or shell-less egg that can’t be laid, killing the chicken. Such incidents have been documented near wind farms, says Cumming, who has also collected examples of livestock and a dog that died from internal hemorrhaging near wind farms.


“There are reports from many wind farm locations that chickens within a 3 km distance from turbines exhibit shell-less eggs during some weather conditions,” he stated. “Some locations have reported shell-less eggs or dead chickens that coincide with residents’ complaints about “noisy nights” from turbines.”


In fact, shell-less eggs are also known as “wind eggs.” According to Broad Leys Publishing, which specializes in books for poultry owners, a yolk-less wind egg may occur in a young pullet, but “wind eggs can also occur in older hens if they are subject to sudden shock.”


Chickens aren’t the only species suffering ill health effects from living near wind farms, Hamish says.

“So far there are several records of dairy cattle in Canada and Australia reducing milk output by as much as 30%,” he wrote.


The Discovery Channel ran a report on massive deaths among bats that suffered lung hemorrhaging when flying near wind turbines: http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/08/25/wind-turbine-bats.html

Goats in Taiwan, verified by the Taiwanese Department of Agriculture, have reportedly died due to stress-induced conditions within 2 km of turbines. “I have had reports of high levels of stillborn lambs and calves (up to 10%)…and stillborn horses in Australia and overseas, only after wind farms commenced operations,” he claims.


Wind farms may even be damaging to the family pet, he believes. “A dog was verified by Werribee Veterinary Hospital as dying from multiple organ fibrosis, believed to be stress-induced—and it was also within 2 km of turbines.”


Animals grazing near wind farms have also exhibited fibrosis, or hemorrhaging of major organs, when butchered, he observed. He believes this may explain why some native birds abandon habitat and cease breeding close to wind turbines.


That’s of serious concern to Cumming, who has endangered bird species nesting on wetlands at his New Zealand farm.


There have also been claims around the world of human health impacts in some communities near wind farms. Dr. Nina Pierpont, a Johns Hopkin School of Medicine trained physician and Princeton University PhD, has authored a book titled Wind Turbine Syndrome documenting serious health effects in people living near wind turbines due to low-frequency sound waves:
http://www.windturbinesyndrome.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Austr.... The wind industry has disputed her findings.


Cumming seeks residents in East County and elsewhere around the world who live within 5 km of wind turbines to create a large data pool. Participants may already own chickens, or be willing to acquire them for the study. Cutting open a dead hen will expose the shell-less egg, if that is the cause of death, he said.


He seeks the following data:


1. How close the nearest turbines are to your chickens or slaughtered animals
2. How many turbines are within 5 km
3. Brand and size of the turbines
4. Name of the wind farm
5. Your country


Data may be sent to Hamish.cumming@bigpond.com


East County Magazine is also interested in hearing about local cases of animal hemmorrhaging, wind eggs, or human health issues from people living near wind farms in San Diego's East County: contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.


Apparently you didn't see our story on wind turbines and animals

documenting more links between animal illnesses, deaths, and wind turbines nearby.  There are actually quite a few instances of apparent harm to livestock, in some cases entire herds dying and wildlife disappearing from areas. Aside from those cited in the story, I've personally had people who live near turbines in the Palm Springs area that the wildlife seems to have vanished there, too:


Stray voltage?!!Milkhouses

Stray voltage?!!

Milkhouses can have stray voltage problems, so a farmer that isn't well informed may have problems with cattle whether they have a wind farm near or not. In fact anywhere on a farm could suffer from stray voltage.
(Have you investigated the total number of stray voltage issues on farms and worked out if those near wind farms are statistically significant?)
So you could blame coal fired power station for causing a problem. Better still, remove electricity altogether and milk by hand!
By definition if you blame wind turbines, then ANY electrical installation should be under scrutiny.

Maybe you need more regulation and legislation for electrical installations?
Or better education.

There is really nothing special about the electricity produced by wind turbines.

Anecdotal evidence doesn't

Anecdotal evidence doesn't equate to anything much.
Entire herds dying? come on, sounds like complete and utter junk.

We have hundreds of wind farms in the UK (which area wise is similar in size to a large US state) and if that happened here it would be big news. The reality is that it is supermarkets that are putting livestock farmers out of business here.
Some farmers here actually want wind farms on their farms, so they can stay in business and get income.

If you were really interested in wildlife, livestock etc, you would analyse all risks and assess them. That includes coal fired power stations, emissions from them, traffic to and from them etc. Or the building of roads and the use of motor vehicles.

In comparison - It is well known skycrapers and windows in buildings kill millions of birds every year in the US alone, whilst wind turbines are responsible for a few thousand (something like 20 billion birds migrate to and from the US every year). Logically we shouldn't have windows in buildings and we should knock down all tall buildings.

Genuine research is very difficult, even deciding what data you collect is complicated, it can't be done without a lot of careful thought.

Animals and wind farms

I find the premise of this article extremely strange and from what I can see it has no relation to reality. My comment relates to the article and to some of the comments.

Better Plan appears to be a group campaigning against wind farms, so it is hardly surprising that they would willingly collect evidence against them.

What about livestock farmers that install wind turbines for income and energy, how many of them complain? I suspect none. But an irate farmer who is annoyed with a wind farm being built near their farm can make up any old story to get back at the wind farm owners/developers.

Regarding noise, stress and farm animals etc. Try living in a densely populated country like the UK where farms can be found yards from cities or even in cities! I have never heard of any animal dying because of stressful noise or vibration in a city or from a city. What about bird scarers that farmers use? Firing blank shot gun cartridges to scare birds away from crops? Noise is found everywhere, including farmland, with vehicles, guns, machinery etc. If there are worries about wind turbines, then herding cattle, sheep etc with helicopters and motor vehicles must surely be banned. That would cause big problems in Australia and the US!

Regarding the 'military' aviation research, how does that relate to the low level noise of wind turbines. They are not equivalent, so that research can not be used or linked to turbines.

If you really want to find something to confirm your bias, you can easily find it. But it doesn't make science or good research.

More on animal deaths/illness near wind farms

Donna Tisdale sent the following information in response to Hamish Cumming's inquiry. Tisdale is Chair of a planning group in Boulevard, California, where 4 wind farms and 9 solar farms are proposed for her region.

If you don't already have this website link, check it out: http://betterplan.squarespace.com/


You have to scroll down the pages, but there are numerous reports, videos, and testimonies from farmers and others relaying adverse impacts, including theh excertps copied  below. -- Donna Tisdale


" Another Wisconsin farmer, Joe Yunk, talks about what happened to his beef cattle after the turbines went on line near the farm that was in his family for generations:

He says "I had beef cattle for about two years prior to the turbines operating and never lost any animals. However, shortly after the turbines began to operate, I had beef cattle become ill and die. I reported this on the WPS hotline and nothing was done. I lost ten animals valued at $5,000 [each] over a two year period and couldn’t afford to continue."

(Source: Read Yunks full testimony to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin HERE)

After turbines in the Blue Sky/Green Field project went on line near the Town of Marshall in Fond Du Lac county, James Vollmer's chickens began to fail. His hatch rate plummeted and there were a high number of unusual deformities in the chicks that did hatch, including missing eyes, crossed beaks and missing leg bones.

Vollmer has been around chickens his whole life. His grandmother and grandfather raised poultry and he says he took to it right away.  He has photograph taken by his grandmother of himself  as a toddler in the chicken house with baby chicks nesting on his back. He says, “I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t around chickens.”

He joined 4-H and by the age of nine he was showing chickens at the county fair.  4-H taught him to be ameticulous record keeper, a habit he has never lost. He’s been documenting all that has happened with his chickens since the wind turbines started up.

How could someone who has raised healthy prize-winning poultry his whole life find himself in a situation where he is unable to keep them alive?

When Better Plan visited Mr. Vollmer in 2010, the chickens were not doing well.

“They shouldn’t be hanging their heads and sitting there like that,” said Vollmer, “They should be going outside and running around.”

Vollmer knew there was trouble when his birds went into a full molt the first winter the turbines were on line.

“Then they pretty much quit laying eggs.”

A full molt in winter is unusual. Birds don’t spontaneously molt in the winter when they need their feathers most to stay warm. And he’d never had a problem with egg production before, but his hatch rate plummeted to 11%  He said, “I didn’t know what was going on.”

Dr. Lynn Knuth, a biologist from Reedsville, has an idea. In 2010 testimony to the Public Service Commission Dr. Knuth says

 "The deformities seen by the farmer are similar to those reported in a study done by the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory (Shannon et al, 1994). In this study, fertilized eggs were exposed to different levels and frequencies of whole-body low frequency vibration. The results revealed increased mortality and birth defects caused by the vibration.
 As a biologist, I am concerned. Chick development is used as a model of human embryonic development."


To Better Plan's knowledge, the effect of wind turbine noise on domestic animals has not been specifically studied, but there are studies on the effects of aircraft noise on domestic animals.

A white paper issued by the Engineering and Services Center U.S. Air Force, Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior includes this statement:

"Sudden or unfamiliar sound is believed to act as an alarm, activating the sympathetic nervous system. The short-term physiological stress reactions, referred to as "fight-or-flight," are similar for many vertebrate species (Holler 1978).

Various stimuli can produce similar physiological effects. Different stressors have their own unique effects, however, and reactions to stress can vary between species and also among individuals of the same species.

0nly laboratory studies have been able to eliminate these variables and show that noise produces certain physiological effects.

The general pattern of response to stress includes activation of the neural and endocrine systems, causing changes such as increased blood pressure, available glucose, and blood levels of corticosteroids.

The effect of sympathetic activation on circulation also is believed to have an effect on hearing (Holler 1978).

A correlation has been shown to exist between the reaction on the peripheral circulation and the temporary threshold shift caused by noise exposure.

Prolonged exposure to severe stress may exhaust an animal's resources and result in death.


correlation of wind turbine 'noise' to physiological effects.

There's no question of the tie-in between "prolonged exposure to severe stress' and exhausting an animal's resources which could result in death, but there seems to be a lack of concrete evidence to support the various claims about noise in particular covered here, beyond anecdotal evidence. I've been near wind farms and couldn't detect any level of noise. The article does mention "short-term effects" associated "with sudden or unfamiliar sounds" which would seem to suggest that, like everything else that impacts on animal life, the animal becomes accustomed to the different conditions and goes on. 'Adaptation' is what its called and animals have been doing it for ages. Much more study needs to be done on this topic before anything becomes conclusive.

There's more noise with newer, larger turbines.

I've been near smaller ones and wasn't too bothered, at least in low winds, but the 500 foot tall ones and even bigger that are out there have far worse affects, according to many people I've spoken with including some who abandoned their homes due.  But the problem isn't just audible noise that you hear. Infrasound, which you can't hear, can cause damage and actual pain. That's a fact, only question is at what levels. It's what causes harm in whales and dolphins from Naval tests.

The Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society recently warned that wind turbines could cause harm to humans: http://bst.sagepub.com/content/31/4/296.abstract

Chickens, wind turbines...

Regardless of their health effects, no one can deny the way turbine farms deface the beauty of our (steadily shrinking) wild, open country. Recently a customer told me about a massive farm that being planned near his home home in Ocotillo. Do you know anything about this, Miriam?

Many thanks. This monster

Many thanks. This monster must be slain. Please keep us apprised of developments.