needs get hold of the case and translate it. Could be useful all over the
Can the hissing of a hot air balloon startle a brood of hens into
near-infertility? A German farmer grappling with dwindling egg production on
his farm certainly seemed to think so. But he failed to convince a court.
Stranger things are known to happen in the animal world. But the theory that
a loud hot air balloon could have impaired the fertility of a brood of hens
proved too much for a court in Germany on Friday. It threw out the complaint
by a German farmer against a Dutch balloon pilot.
The farmer was seeking 26,000 euros ($35,000) in damages from the pilot's
The incident occurred in September 2004, when the balloon pilot swooped low
and passed over the farmer's land in the village of Nordhorn in the German
state of Lower Saxony.
In an attempt to regain altitude, the pilot fired up his propane gas burner
with a loud hiss causing panic among the farm's 20,000 free-range hens.
According to the farmer, some of the startled, squawking birds sprang over a
two-meter fence while others tried to flee into coops. The hens, the farmer
said, had been scared badly. Their post-traumatic stress syndrome meant that
a week and a half later, they were laying fewer eggs. Egg production dropped
by almost 60 percent, the farmer said.
The unusual theory was, however, refuted by a professor at a nearby
veterinary college. Asked to testify by the court, the expert said that
decreased egg production among hens was possible for up to two days after a
major shock -- but not ten days after as the farmer had claimed.