Last week Better Plan learned of a dairy farmer named Kevin Ashenbrenner whose farm is in the Shirley Wind project (Town of Glenmore, Brown County WI) From an email to Better Plan:
“He has lost 17 calves and 15 cows since the Shirley turbines started spinning, that’s more than he loses in 5 years of farming and breeding. The closest turbine to his house is 9/10 mile away as the crow flies. There are six turbines total around his property. His family is also suffering badly with headaches, anxiety, and insomnia.”
He’s not alone. This video interview with Kewanee County dairy farmer Scott Srnka describes similar problems after turbines went on line near his farm
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.”
(SOURCE: PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION DOCKET, GLACIER HILLS PROJECT)
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.