Polish Study Suggests Wind Turbines Negatively Impact Geese

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Preliminary studies on the reaction of growing geese (Anser anser f. domestica) to the proximity of wind turbines
J. Mikołajczak1, S. Borowski2, J. Marć-Pieńkowska1,
G. Odrowąż-Sypniewska3, Z. Bernacki4, J. Siódmiak3, P. Szterk1
1 Department of Animal Nutrition and Feed Management, Faculty of Animal Breeding and Biology,
University of Technology and Life Sciences in Bydgoszcz, Mazowiecka 28, 85-084 Bydgoszcz
2 Department of Agricultural Engineering, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Technology and Life Sciences in Bydgoszcz, Prof. Kaliskiego 7, 85-789 Bydgoszcz
3 Department of Laboratory Medicine, Faculty of Pharmacy,
Nicolaus Copernicus University Collegium Medicum in Bydgoszcz,
M. Curie Skłodowskiej 9, 85-094 Bydgoszcz
4 Department of Poultry Breeding, Faculty of Animal Breeding and Biology,
University of Technology and Life Sciences in Bydgoszcz, Mazowiecka 28, 85-084 Bydgoszcz


Wind farms produce electricity without causing air pollution and environmental degradation. Unfortunately, wind turbines are a source of infrasound, which may cause a number of physiological effects, such as an increase in cortisol and catecholamine secretion. The impact of infrasound noise, emitted by wind turbines, on the health of geese and other farm animals has not previously been evaluated. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the effect of noise, generated by wind turbines, on the stress parameters (cortisol) and the weight gain of geese kept in surrounding areas.

The study consisted of 40 individuals of 5- week- old domestic geese Anser anser f domestica, divided into 2 equal groups. The first experimental gaggle (I) remained within 50 m from turbine and the second one (II) within 500 m. During the 12 weeks of the study, noise measurements were also taken.

Weight gain and the concentration of cortisol in blood were assessed and significant differences in both cases were found. Geese from gaggle I gained less weight and had a higher concentration of cortisol in blood, compared to individuals from gaggle II. Lower activity and some disturbing changes in behavior of animals from group I were noted. Results of the study suggest a negative effect of the immediate vicinity of a wind turbine on the stress parameters of geese and their productivity.

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The study included 40 individuals of 5-week-old domestic geese Anser anser f. domestica, divided into two groups of 20 individuals each. The first gaggle (group I) remained within 50 m from the turbine (with a capacity of 2 MW) in Rapałki near Rypin (Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland), the second one (group II) within 500 m.

Venous blood was collected in order to obtain serum which, until assessment, was stored deep-frozen (-80oC) in small aliquots. The cortisol concentration in the serum of birds…

Although corticosterone is considered to be the dominant avian glucocorticoid and is well known as a stress hormone in birds (Koren et al. 2012), there are some papers demonstrating that birds also produce cortisol (Walsh et al. 1985, Schmidt and Soma 2008, Sohail et al. 2010, Swathi et al. 2012, Jadhaw et al. 2013). We, therefore, examined the changes of cortisol concentration in blood of geese as a response to the possible stress caused by infrasound generated by a wind turbine.

In the course of the experiment the measurements of noise were taken as follows: 10 times at 4 designated measuring points situated 140 m away from the turbine and 5 times within 50 m from the turbine, at the place where the geese were kept. In addition, measurements (in four directions) at a distance of 200 m from the plant and at every subsequent 100 m, up to 1500 m, were made. Both audible sound and infrasound were measured using a class I sound and vibration analyzer

Noise measurements in the infrasound range (Lin scale) generated by the wind turbine in Rypałki allowed determination of the intensity of sound at the point 50 meters from the turbine (the location of geese), where the average value was 94.5 dB, while the average value in site 1 was 99 dB, site 2- 105 dB, site 3- 96.23 dB and site 4- 98.63 dB. When the distance from the turbine was greater, the intensity of recorded infrasound was significantly lower.

The differences in the cortisol concentration in the blood of animals from both gaggles, in the 5th, 10th and 17th week of rearing, were found to be highly significant (p < 0.001).

the concentration of cortisol in the blood of geese increased with the time of exposure to the immediate vicinity of the wind plant. All three successive measurements of cortisol concentration showed a higher concentration of “stress hormones” in birds kept at a distance of 50 m from the turbine. The lower cortisol concentration in animals kept at a distance of 500 m may indicate that this distance is safer for animals but still not safe enough…

This is a crucial study with “before and after” results indicating a serious impact on cortisol the”stress hormone”.