In Missouri, it’s not unusual to experience intermittent rolls of thunder and flashes of lightning, especially as May approaches. The region had recently been subjected to severe storms and flooding. Thus, when Springfield farmer Jared Blackwelder and his spouse, Misty, heard some loud crashes on a Saturday morning after tending to the dairy cows, they dismissed it without much thought.
Nonetheless, as Blackwelder made his way back to the pasture later that day to gather the cows for their evening milking routine, he stumbled upon a heart-wrenching scene. A tragic tableau of his 32 dairy cows stacked lifeless upon each other amidst the mulch.
These creatures had fallen victim to a lightning strike
Stan Coday, the president of the Wright County Missouri Farm Bureau, explained everything to CBS News. “He ventured out to bring the cows indoors and that’s when he made the discovery. While this is a recurring incident, what magnified its impact was the sheer magnitude of cows affected.”
After a local veterinarian conducted an examination and verified that lightning was indeed the cause of the cows’ demise. Coday was informed that up until this point, the most he had seen in a single incident was six cows. It appeared that the cows had gathered under the trees in an attempt to shield themselves from the storm. “You’re essentially at the mercy of nature.” Coday said, noting that he had personally experienced the loss of a cow to lightning a few years ago.
Despite farmers acknowledging the huge risks, Coday emphasized the sorrow that comes with such a loss
“While they may not be pets, the ones I’m tending to, I’ve nurtured each and every one of them,” Blackwelder shared with the Springfield News-Leader. He further explained, “Dairy cattle hold a distinct place because you interact with them twice daily. It hits you deeply.” Significant financial repercussions compound the emotional toll.
According to Blackwelder’s account to the News-Leader, he is insured, although he remains uncertain if the policy will adequately cover his complete loss. He approximates the value of each certified organic cow to be between $2,000 and $2,500, amounting to a staggering loss of over $60,000.
Coday mentioned that “most producers don’t opt for insurance.” He clarified that losing a cow often signifies losing everything for these farmers. Addressing inquiries from local residents, Coday, who raises beef cattle, clarified that the meat from Blackwelder’s cows could not be salvaged.
“Given the circumstances, those animals sustained damage, and they had been exposed for a considerable duration before their discovery,” he elaborated. “Processing an animal involves a specific protocol that must be followed. In this case, the cows wouldn’t have been suitable for human consumption.“
Coday also added that due to Missouri’s predominantly warmer climate, many farmers lack a separate structure to shelter their cows. “It’s essential to recognize that this was a situation beyond his control,” Coday emphasized.
And while this incident occurred in 2017, many similar occurrences have since happened
On Saturday, a tornado wreaked havoc across portions of Missouri. Accompanied by wind gusts reaching speeds of up to 90 mph and hail as substantial as baseballs. As reported by the National Weather Service. While there has been no confirmation yet regarding any injuries sustained by individuals, a storm report from the NWS indicated that cattle suffered injuries amid the rampage of the destructive storm.
It’s worth noting that an earlier incident in April within the state claimed the lives of at least five individuals. The storm on Saturday inflicted damage that included the displacement of a church roof in downtown Trenton and the forceful removal of a hog barn’s roof. As detailed by the NWS. Furthermore, the hail managed to breach a steel roof, underscoring the intensity of the weather event.
The weather agency had issued warnings cautioning the public about the potential occurrence of hail ranging in size from baseballs to large apples and ping-pong balls. Additionally, severe thunderstorm warnings were disseminated for the affected area.
- “Farmer devastated to discover lightning strike killed 32 of his dairy cows.” CBS News. Jennifer Earl. May 3, 2017
- “Tornado, baseball-sized hail wreak havoc in Missouri.” CBS News. Aliza Chasan. May 7, 2023