Agricultural Law and Stray Voltage
A dairy operation can sustain damage due to numerous causes including: milking equipment
malfunction, improperly installed milking equipment, poor feed, improperly balanced or improperly administered rations, veterinary
malpractice, improperly designed or improperly constructed facilities, and stray current/voltage. Because of the complexity
of modern-dairy farming, it is paramount that when things do go wrong, a dairy operator seek the counsel of experienced attorneys
who are well-versed in the agricultural arena. Regardless of whether the dairy operation has 100 or 2000 cows, in all likelihood
when the diary farmer seeks reimbursement for losses caused by another, the farmer will be denied fair compensation if the
farmer does not have strong legal representation. It is important that diary farmers have attorneys on their side who know
the dairy industry and who have successfully combated the high-powered defense attorneys who represent insurance companies
and electric utilities.
Regarding stray current/stray voltage, the electrical distribution industry has been aware for over thirty
years, of the need to maintain a trouble free electrical system in the environment of dairy farms. Dairy cows are known to
experience a set of behavioral, health and production effects when exposed to problematic levels of electrical current. Some
signs that indicate dairy animals may be exposed to problematic levels of electrical current include: depressed milk production,
poor or incomplete milk let down, increased incidence of mastitis or increased somatic cell count, poor conception rates,
poor heats, increased milking time, increased defecation and/or urination during milking time, increased nervousness, kicking
cows, "dancing" cows, tail switching, reluctancy to be milked or enter the milking facility, lapping at waterers,
avoidance of waterers or certain areas of the dairy facility, and animals with inferior health or immune system function.
It should be noted that every situation is unique and not all of these signs will occur in every situation and other signs
may exist. Furthermore, the signs exhibited depend on the electrical pathway and exposure levels, and the signs can be due
to causes other than electrical sources.
The source of problematic
electrical current can be from on-farm or off-farm sources. Whether the problematic electrical phenomena be due to "traditional"
stray voltage, stray current, earth current, or inferior power quality, farm experience identifies the effects as a general
attack on the well-being of cows. Veterinarians, agricultural engineers, and dairy farmers experienced with adverse electrical
effects describe them as an apparent destruction of the cows' immune system. Observations of the actions and responses
of dairy animals show the degree to which animals are negatively impacted by exposure to electrical current varies depending
upon current levels, whether the exposure is continuous or intermittent, the pathway of the current, and the length of exposure.
Field observations also contradict many published articles and studies regarding "threshold" current levels at which
dairy cows begin to experience depressed milk production.
loss cases, you not only need a lawyer with experience but one who knows the difference between a heifer and a Holstein. At
Hammarback Law Offices, S.C., we have successfully handled agricultural law, stray voltage and earth current cases across
the country for years. We have experience in litigation, trial, negotiation and settlement.