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Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:   (doi:10.13031/2013.17778) in Stray Voltage Problems in Agriculture. Chapter 18 in Fundamentals of Electricity for Agriculture, 3rd edition, 431-451. St. Joseph, Michigan: ASAE. . Copyright 2004 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Mich.
Authors:   Gustafson, Robert J., and Mark T. Morgan
Keywords:   Symptoms, Potential Stray Voltage Sources, When Can Stray Voltage Be a Problem, Standardized Measurements, Solutions to the Problem

Stray voltage, defined as the voltage between any two animal contacts, can cause serious problems for livestock, in particular dairy. Dairymen are losing milk production and are experiencing cow behavior and health problems due to small electrical currents passing through the cows bodies. The voltages are known by several names, including neutral-to-earth (N-E) voltage, neutral-to-ground voltage, tingle voltage, and extraneous voltage. The problem stems from a voltage at an undesirable level between two animal contact points.

The concept of stray voltage is relatively simple electrically, although the sources can be varied and complex. These voltages may be caused by poor or faulty wiring, faulty equipment, or improper grounding, or they may result from the small voltages required to move current through the grounded neutral system neutral-to-earth voltage. As farm operations increase in size and sophistication, as electrical wiring systems become obsolete or deteriorate, and as electrical loads on rural distribution systems increase, it is likely that stray voltage problems will continue to exist. However, with a good understanding of (a) the sources and their interactions, and (b) the sensitivity of animals to electrical currents, stray voltage problems can be analyzed and corrected in existing facilities as well as prevented in new construction. This chapter is intended to explain the problem, describe potential problem sources, and give recommendations on what to do to prevent or correct the problem.

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