Lightning lit up the sky early Saturday morning in Springfield, Missouri, and as a result, 32 cows were killed.
Jared Blackwelder, a certified organic dairy farmer since 2007, was up before dawn on Saturday to milk his herd of over 150 cattle. As he was finishing, a bolt of lightning shot down from the sky, stopping him in his tracks. He said in an interview with USA Today;
"It was so bright I couldn't hardly see. It just brought fire down the fences."
With no obvious damage done, Blackwelder went about his day. When it came time to milk again several hours later, the Texas County farmer returned to the field. That's when he found over 30 of his prized cows lying dead on the ground.
"I went down over the hill and seen them laying there. They were just piled on top of each other. They were huddled up, trying to get out of rain."
A vet later confirmed that the animals died from a single lightning strike, mostly likely due to ground current. The bolt of lightning hit either a nearby tree or fence and then traveled through the ground to where the cows were standing. The electricity entered their bodies through their feet and exited at the point farthest from the contact point. The cows died immediately, barely a second after the initial strike.
While Blackwelder didn't view the cows as pets, they were a vital part of his livelihood. As certified organic, each animal was worth much more than the average bovine. Blackwelder predicts he lost about $60,000 and can only hope his insurance covers the loss.
He plans to keep the cows where they fell until an insurance agent visits the scene. From there, his only option is to rent an excavator and bury the dead animals. He has 120 cows left on the farm and is grateful more animals weren't killed during the storm.
All images via Facebook/Wright County-Missouri Farm Bureau
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