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German cow flatulence causes cowshed explosion

29 January 2014

According to a report by Reuters, methane gas released by dairy cows in the central German town of Rasdorf caused a blast that injured one animal and damaged the building in which they were penned. The injured cow was treated for burns, according to local police.

Cows each produce up to 500 litres of methane a day, and the gas can have explosive potential if it reaches the right concentrations. Quoting a police statement, the agency said the gas from 90 dairy cows in the shed was ignited by a static electric charge, causing the explosion which wrecked the roof of the building.

Local media said emergency services attended the farm and took gas readings to test for the risk of further blasts.

Pig farmers in the USA have experienced a number of methane explosions in intensive units recently. Explosions, particularly in the upper Midwest since 2008, have destroyed a number of pig sheds that have killed hogs and injured workers. In one incident, 1,500 hogs perished.

Iowa State University professor Steven Hoff is leading a million dollar research project to find the cause of the US pig shed blasts.

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