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.”