Stray Voltage

"Stray voltage" or "stray current" is a phenomenon recognized and proven in recent years to have a devastating adverse impact on farms and farm animals. Stray voltage is caused by electric current running through the farm and can have either off-farm or on-farm sources. The off-farm source is almost always the electric utility serving the particular farm affected. This can come in the form of either steady state current or through transient spikes in electricity. The utilities always vigorously fight these cases and always blame the farmer for any damages.

Damage from stray voltage is hard to detect and hiring the right people for evaluation and testing is important. While stray voltage can affect any animals, dairy cows have proven to be particularly susceptible to electric current. The scientific literature supports the conclusion that the dairy cow's immune system is adversely affected by stray voltage, leading to a variety of problems such as mastitis, hoof problems, loss of milk production, reproductive loss and death.

Because the cow's immune system is compromised by electric current, numerous pathogens that would otherwise not affect the cow are permitted to flourish. Veterinarians and nutritionists often treat just the symptoms or just the specific disease that they diagnose, without seeking and eradicating the underlying cause of the immune suppression. Commonly, the farmer seeks the advice of his usual professional consultants, who then attempt the usual, well-accepted methods of eradicating a problem. Sometimes these solutions work, but only temporarily. More problems develop or those that exist become resistant to any form of treatment. In the case of mastitis, the farmer's milking practices and procedures, which have not changed, become suspected as a cause of increased somatic cell count. Sometimes farmers make management decisions that make matters worse while seeking solutions, without knowing or realizing that the underlying cause is an immune suppression problem caused by stray voltage.

Bird, Jacobsen & Stevens has represented many farmers suffering from stray voltage. We understand the law and the science and know how to take on large utilities in the courts.