Lightning strike kills 15 cows

A farmer in western Switzerland was left counting his losses last week after a single electric storm left 15 of his cows dead. 

Lightning strike kills 15 cows
Thomas Bush (File)

The stormy weather that struck Switzerland last Thursday caused an unusual tragedy in the Jura: 15 Red Holstein cows, all belonging to one farmer, Jean-Luc Duvoisin, were struck down by lightning, newspaper Tribune de Genève reported.

“I was having a drink with a friend. Then suddenly the rain started and at about 10pm we heard a big clap of thunder, more violent than usual. Certainly that was the one that was fatal,” the farmer told the newspaper.

When Duvoisin later ventured out, he found first one carcass, then three more, and then all the rest piled together under a tree.

“Seeing so many animals on the ground is fortunately very rare in a career,” vet Sébastien Hadorn said.

The animals most likely died from internal burns as the lightning passed through them.

The loss of the animals is significant for the Duvoisin family. The number represents more than a third of the herd, which in turns means that a third less milk will be produced, greatly reducing the family’s income.

Furthermore, a deadly lightning strike is not covered by the family’s insurance.

“We love our animals,” Duvoisin said. “They are our livelihood, but first and foremost they are our animals, and we are attached to them.”

 Duvoisin said the animals are not easily replaced, as he has carefully selected the best cows across generations.

“A farmer spends years breeding animals to make a productive herd, whether for meat or milk,” Claude-André Fardel, head of local cattle farmers’ union FVSE, told the newspaper.

“It’s a long process, and to lose 15 all at once is really terrible.”

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Cattle on stranded ship should be killed, Spanish vet report says

More than 850 cows that were stranded aboard a ship in the Mediterranean for months are not fit for transport, a confidential report by Spanish government veterinarians said, according to Reuters.

Cattle on stranded ship should be killed, Spanish vet report says
The ship had struggled to find buyers for the cattle after it was rejected from Turkey. Illustration photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP

The ship carrying the cattle, called Karim Allah, had struggled to find a buyer for the cattle for the past two months. It finally docked in the southeastern Spanish port of Cartagena on Thursday.

Several countries rejected the animals for fear they had bovine bluetongue virus, which causes lameness and haemorrhaging among cattle, but does not affect humans.

The veterinarians’ report, seen by Reuters, said the animals had suffered from the journey, and were unwell and not fit for transport outside the EU. 

It did not say if the cattle had bluetongue disease, but recommended euthanasia as the best solution for their health and welfare.

The cattle likely have severe health problems after their “hellish” crossing, animal rights activist Silvia Barquero, director of the Igualdad Animal NGO, told Reuters.

The NGO is calling for Spain to end the transport of animals outside the EU.


The Agriculture Ministry told Reuters it will make appropriate decisions after analysing information from the inspection.

The ship left Cartagena to deliver the cattle to Turkey, but authorities there blocked the shipment fearing bluetongue infection.

This led to several other countries refusing entry even to replenish animal feed, forcing the cows to go several days with just water.

The Agriculture Ministry’s experts said 864 animals were alive on board. Twenty-two cows died at sea, with two corpses still aboard. The remains of others were chopped up and thrown overboard during the journey, the report said.

Ownership of the cattle is unclear.