“From the top of my tractor, I can see that they are only skin and bones. I would cry. On the other side of the small road that winds along his property, a little away from the town of Mazeyrat-d’Allier, in Haute-Loire, Frédéric Sagères can see less than 300 meters away what he considers to be the cause of the problems with his cows: a mobile telephone tower put into service by Orange on June 28, 2021. Torn between anger and dejection, the breeder, who runs the Gaec de Coupet with his wife Géraldine and his brother Yannick, however, regains hope. On May 23, the administrative court of Clermont-Ferrand ordered the cessation of operation of the 4G antenna for a period of two months.

This measure, unprecedented in France, should be effective within three months. The objective is to carry out an expertise in order “to establish a potential causal link between the behavior of cattle and this antenna”. The administrative court highlights “a significant drop in the quality and quantity of the milk produced, a serious disorder in the behavior of the herd and its voluntary undernutrition and abnormally high deaths”. In front of his herd of prim’Holsteins, these black and white cows champions of milk productivity, Mr. Sagères is saddened. “They’re all skinny,” he observes. They don’t get up at night to eat anymore and they hardly drink anything. And this one, standing totally still with her jaw stuck to the side and her head down, you can tell she’s not behaving normally! And to add: “These cows, they are sad. »

His brother Yannick shows the Sodiaal calendar, the cooperative that collects milk every two days. The quantities are carefully noted there. In June 2021, the average is 4,200 litres. On July 3, less than a week after the antenna was commissioned, the Slgagues recorded 3,792 liters. In the days that followed, the fall was dizzying: up to 2,700 liters at the end of the month.

Since then, production has not picked up. Added to this are other difficulties. “We had forty dead cattle in eleven months compared to ten in normal times. » Reproduction becomes random. The Haute-Loire Sanitary Defense Group, an association that monitors animal health in conjunction with the public authorities, closely follows the Gaec de Coupet. “There are very disturbing phenomena in terms of animal behavior with animals that do not feed and drink,” notes its director, Julien Bachellerie. We circled all the usual tracks without highlighting any. “The quality of food or water, farming methods, the presence of diseases… nothing could be pointed out. And the autopsies did nothing.


The suspension of the operation of the antenna will be a life-size test scrutinized with attention by the dozens of breeders who claim to be victims of the electromagnetic fields generated by telephone antennas, high voltage lines or wind turbines. In particular by those of the National Association animals under tension (Anast). “We are more than a hundred members,” says Yann Joly, the association’s secretary. “I’m not against phone masts or wind turbines,” he says. I just think that the standards for this type of electrical installation are not suitable for preventing stray and stray currents that run through basements. They can affect the health of animals, which are far more sensitive to them than we are. »

The difficulty is that science does not say much about the subject of electrosensitivity in farm animals. Before the administrative court, Orange also defended itself by asserting that there is “no scientific data” highlighting “a link between mobile phone antennas and disorders in the herd”.

A finding also established in March 2021 by the report of the deputy of Maine-et-Loire, Philippe Bolo (MoDem), for the Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Choices. “The contribution of electromagnetic fields to behavioral disturbances in animals is not demonstrated by science,” he notes. He notes, however, that observations show “a concomitance between the installation of energy or telecommunications infrastructure and the appearance of behavioral disorders in animals”. He also notes “a relative consensus on the role of the high sensitivity of animals” to eddy currents, especially those that are established between the ground and the feet of animals.

“It’s the iron pot against the earthen pot”

An expert appointed by the Puy-en-Velay court had asked the prefect of Haute-Loire, Eric Etienne, on April 4, 2022, to organize a temporary suspension of the antenna. Apparently convinced of the seriousness of the file, the prefect had immediately seized the Secretary of State in charge of the digital transition and electronic communications, Cédric O. A request remained unanswered. The prefect had not been luckier in September 2021 when he had already alerted the Secretary of State on this file. “It’s the iron pot against the earthen pot,” complains the secretary of the Anast. The mayor of Mazeyrat-d’Allier, Philippe Molherat (without label), also perceives strong resistance: “I have the impression that we should not jeopardize the program of deployment of antennas in rural areas. »