Deer and cows orient with magnetic north/South...

Discuss deer hunting tactics, Deer behavior. Post your Hunting Stories, Pictures, and Questions/Answers.
dan
Site Owner
Posts: 39172
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 6:11 am
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HuntingBeast/?ref=bookmarks
Location: S.E. Wisconsin
Contact:
Status: Offline

Deer and cows orient with magnetic north/South...

Unread postby dan » Sat May 08, 2010 2:37 pm

Do you think of asking the cow for directions? Why not? For it seems that cow probably knows which way north is!

You know, these big dumb-seeming large mammals you pass by every day, these big walking, grazing cheese-producing happy cows dotting the picturesque landscapes of California's grassy hillsdes, or their scrawnier but holier cousins clogging up traffic throughout India? Well, there is more to them than meets the eye - in fact this curious tidbit about their natural history seems to have escaped notice from even the keenest cowboy, cattle-herder, animal husband (I'm not sure if that's what one calls someone practicing animal husbandry - is it?), or drunken late night cow-tipper, throughout history.
It took some creative but fairly straightforward analysis by German scientists of satellite imagery now available via Google Earth to discover that cows, while grazing or resting, chewing cud tend to orient their bodies along the magnetic north-south axis!! And its not just cows, deer also appear to do the same! How cool, and odd, and curious is that?! And what a clever application of Google Earth imagery? This team simply measured the orientation of 8510 cows in satellite images of 308 pastures across the globe, and found that over two-thirds of the animals orient themselves along a north-south axis!! Apart from simply asking the question (who woulda thunk?), the analysis was careful enough to account for local variation in magnetic fields, and shows that the animals orient according to the local field, not geographic north!
Which raises all kinds of interesting questions worth following up on, some of which you can read about in the original PNAS paper published in an early online edition this week, and in this Los Angeles Times article covering it. Here's the abstract from PNAS:

Magnetic alignment in grazing and resting cattle and deer
Sabine Begall, Jaroslav Červený, Julia Neef, Oldřich Vojtčch, and Hynek Burda
Abstract
We demonstrate by means of simple, noninvasive methods (analysis of satellite images, field observations, and measuring “deer beds” in snow) that domestic cattle (n = 8,510 in 308 pastures) across the globe, and grazing and resting red and roe deer (n = 2,974 at 241 localities), align their body axes in roughly a north–south direction. Direct observations of roe deer revealed that animals orient their heads northward when grazing or resting. Amazingly, this ubiquitous phenomenon does not seem to have been noticed by herdsmen, ranchers, or hunters. Because wind and light conditions could be excluded as a common denominator determining the body axis orientation, magnetic alignment is the most parsimonious explanation. To test the hypothesis that cattle orient their body axes along the field lines of the Earth's magnetic field, we analyzed the body orientation of cattle from localities with high magnetic declination. Here, magnetic north was a better predictor than geographic north. This study reveals the magnetic alignment in large mammals based on statistically sufficient sample sizes. Our findings open horizons for the study of magnetoreception in general and are of potential significance for applied ethology (husbandry, animal welfare). They challenge neuroscientists and biophysics to explain the proximate mechanisms.

So what's the underlying mechanism cows use to sense the magnetic field? Do they also have magnetic particles in their brains like many better studied migratory species known to orient magnetically? Why do they do this? Domestic cows are not, of course, migratory any more (at least not on their own), so what might they gain by orienting magnetically? Or is this simply a vestige of their evolutionary history, from ancestors who actually put that magnet to use? And do they prefer to point their heads north or their behinds? The satellite photos are not sharp enough to tell apparently, so answering that may require some ground-truthing! Opens up a whole new line of research, doesn't it?
And as for why so many humans who have spent much time with cows failed to notice this uncanny magnetism, here's a priceless quote from the LA Times, from a dairy farmer right here in the Central Valley, no less:
Asked whether he had ever observed such behavior in cows, dairy farmer Rob Fletcher of Tulare, Calif., said, "Absolutely not." But, he added, "I don't spend a lot of time worrying about stuff like that."


User avatar
PredatorTC
500 Club
Posts: 2742
Joined: Sun Feb 21, 2010 2:50 pm
Status: Offline

Re: Deer and cows orient with magnetic north/South...

Unread postby PredatorTC » Sat May 08, 2010 2:42 pm

Interesting! Dan, have you noticed this with a lot of deer beds?
dan
Site Owner
Posts: 39172
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 6:11 am
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HuntingBeast/?ref=bookmarks
Location: S.E. Wisconsin
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Deer and cows orient with magnetic north/South...

Unread postby dan » Sat May 08, 2010 2:46 pm

No... But will watch for it. The beds to me seem to face specific directions for specific reasons.
Saw this on TV today and looked it up on line. I was amazed when they were showing fields of cows all but a couple facing North
User avatar
Swampthing
500 Club
Posts: 3335
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2010 8:13 pm
Location: Western Minnesota
Status: Offline

Re: Deer and cows orient with magnetic north/South...

Unread postby Swampthing » Sat May 08, 2010 8:48 pm

I wanted to start a post about this subject during my spring scouting.I was talking to my friend who hunts a little, about the buck beds that I was finding,and how they were all had a NW orientation.She always gives me weird looks when I,m talking hunting. and gave me an even bigger one that day.
I was telling her how I thought the bucks were knd of quartering into the wind .Seems in pictures they usually bed with their head kinda turned into their body .So to me it looked as though they bedded so the wind would kinda hit their backside and drift along their back and neck and past their nose.
She kinda laughed at me ,and i figured if she was laughing at me then I might not want to make a post where even more people might be doing the same.But every bed i found was nearly exactly the same direction.I just decided it was just related to the prevailing wind where I hunt which is North /Northwest.
Which would mean in other regions the beds would reflect the prevailing wind there.But mabey this magnetic north also plays a role.Or it,s a combination of both.
Image
User avatar
Singing Bridge
500 Club
Posts: 7162
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:11 pm
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pro ... 1329617473
Location: Logged in - from above
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Deer and cows orient with magnetic north/South...

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Sun May 09, 2010 12:08 am

I've never heard of studies on ungulates regarding magnetic orientation in their brains. Salmon, migratory birds/pigeons, and whales all have magnetic particles in their brains. Magnetic particles in the brains of humans were only discovered in 1992 by Caltech researchers. They theorized that in early evolutionary man directional orientation was important to survival- but that as mankind evolved the brain's necessity for directional orientation became lost and unused.
dan
Site Owner
Posts: 39172
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 6:11 am
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HuntingBeast/?ref=bookmarks
Location: S.E. Wisconsin
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Deer and cows orient with magnetic north/South...

Unread postby dan » Sun May 09, 2010 1:11 am

I still have a hard time swallowing the bedding direction theory... Cause most of the bucks I have observed always bedded facing down wind with the wind to there back, or the bed had a direction that had him facing a human or predator access such as the trail hunters access the property from. And does, I have seen does bed in a circle all facing different directions.
So my interest would be more in how this magnetic thing is effecting travel and or daytime movements.
The moon has a magnetic field, and I have to think now, that this magnetic field may have something to do with how the moon phases work with deer movements.
User avatar
Indianahunter
500 Club
Posts: 1774
Joined: Sat Feb 20, 2010 2:27 pm
Location: Greensburg Indiana
Status: Offline

Re: Deer and cows orient with magnetic north/South...

Unread postby Indianahunter » Sun May 09, 2010 4:57 am

Although a very interesting study, I don't know what significance it could every have unless it was true of every deer and as Dan has pointed out and I and others have observed it is not true of every animal, but I have thought of an Angle for the Beast! Get a government grant to study this for the deer Dan. I mean the government gave a 30 million dollar grant to study the flow rate of Ketchup so why not this...hehehehehe
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8
User avatar
Singing Bridge
500 Club
Posts: 7162
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:11 pm
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pro ... 1329617473
Location: Logged in - from above
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Deer and cows orient with magnetic north/South...

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Sun May 09, 2010 10:32 am

Indianahunter wrote:Get a government grant to study this for the deer Dan. I mean the government gave a 30 million dollar grant to study the flow rate of Ketchup so why not this...hehehehehe


:lol: Love the way you think, Indianahunter! If we get grant money, I'm in!
User avatar
Black Squirrel
500 Club
Posts: 4978
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:50 am
Location: NE WI
Status: Offline

Re: Deer and cows orient with magnetic north/South...

Unread postby Black Squirrel » Tue May 11, 2010 3:16 am

I've always wondered how a deer "navigates" in the swamps or big woods. especially after dark. Think about it, a buck after wondering around all night feeding or chasing girls, can come back before first light and find the exact bed he wants to use for the day. I know the are better equipped then us humans. It's just that in a swamp, after dark, I would get lost so fast if I didn't take a compass, or have the trail marked, or GPS. :oops:
User avatar
Singing Bridge
500 Club
Posts: 7162
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:11 pm
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pro ... 1329617473
Location: Logged in - from above
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Deer and cows orient with magnetic north/South...

Unread postby Singing Bridge » Fri May 14, 2010 9:31 am

Yeah, there's a lot of bad people that drop off unwanted pet animals many miles from their home and abandon them- only to have the animal show up a few days later. You know that the dog didn't say to himself on the way... "to get back I've got to go 3 miles on Washington street and then hang a left on Third", etc. Some animals have an amazing and innate sense of direction and location. I also believe whitetails use their sense of smell for navigation at all times of the day a lot more than most hunters think. They certainly don't have to be right next to a river they are paralleling to be able to smell it and know exactly where they are, for example.
dreaming bucks
Status: Offline

Re: Deer and cows orient with magnetic north/South...

Unread postby dreaming bucks » Tue Oct 11, 2011 3:47 am

I remember when this thread came up, & I brought the cow bedding subject up to a bunch of my friends. They looked @ me like I had a screw loose or something. Lol

[ Post made via Android ] Image
User avatar
headgear
500 Club
Posts: 11470
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 7:21 am
Location: Northern Minnesota
Status: Offline

Re: Deer and cows orient with magnetic north/South...

Unread postby headgear » Tue Oct 11, 2011 3:48 am

Thanks for the bump Dan, first time I saw this thread. Interesting read, I will try and keep an eye out for those north/south facing beds.
User avatar
GRFox
500 Club
Posts: 1657
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 4:59 am
Location: New York
Status: Offline

Re: Deer and cows orient with magnetic north/South...

Unread postby GRFox » Tue Oct 11, 2011 3:55 am

Interesting.


  • Advertisement

Return to “Deer Hunting”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: DEERSLAYER and 2 guests