A thunderstorm swept through Ottawa County, Mich., on Wednesday, damaging a local dairy and killing eight cows.
According to MLive, eight head of the dairy’s herd were under a larger tree on the property when it was struck by lightning. The dairy’s owner was notified by a neighbor, who witnessed the lightning strike.
The majority of the dairy’s herd, estimated between 40 and 50 animals, were not injured in the storm. Click here to read more.
Hundreds of livestock are killed annually by lightning across the country, but an exactly number is unknown. Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University estimates “lightning causes about 80 percent of all accidental livestock deaths.”
Lightning likely strikes livestock just as often – if not more – than it strikes people.
“Unless there is a barn nearby, livestock are out in the open during thunderstorms, so their chances of being hit are greater,” he says. “And the types of injuries are about the same. One study shows that while about 70 percent of humans struck by lightning still survive, the fatality rate of horses and cattle is much higher. This is because no one is around to treat the injured animal, plus the body mass of the animal is larger than a human, meaning more tissue damage can occur. Often, a rancher will see a dead animal on his property and not see any apparent cause. A necropsy (animal autopsy) often reveals that the animal died from a lightning strike.”
In April, a series of lightning strikes killed more than 60 dairy cows in southern Chile.