Monday 26 February 2018

'I got a hell of a shock' - Wicklow farmer's horror as two pedigree cows killed by lightning

Warning: distressing image

John Lawrence

A farmer has told of his shock after two of his pedigree cows were killed by a bolt of lightning as they grazed.

Victor Jackson, from Kiltegan in Co Wicklow, described how both heavily pregnant Holstein Friesian cows were found "stone dead only three feet from each other" after a period of intense thunder and lightning.

He found one of the valuable cows, who was mainly white in colour, "with singe marks on her back where she had been roasted".

“There were about 30 cows in a group at the time and they were standing near an electric fence in the wide open. There was no shelter,” said the award-winning dairy farmer.

Picture: Victor Jackson
Picture: Victor Jackson

"There had been a lot of thunder and lightning in the area at the time. At one stage there was an almighty bang of thunder and it nearly shook the house.”

But he only suspected something was wrong with his herd when some surviving animals walked into his yard.

One of the dead cows had fallen through the perimeter electric fence when she was struck, and then collapsed onto a nearby roadway.

Mr Jackson said: “She was lying flat there and her belly had become very swollen. I knew she was dead.”

The freak incident took place around 1.30pm on July 1 and Mr Jackson discovered the stricken cow and heifer, who were due to calve in the coming weeks, some hours after the event happened.

"Needless to say I got a hell of a shock when I saw them. It had to be lightning,” remarked Mr Jackson.

“I notified my insurance company that evening and they asked me to take pictures to verify that it was lightning. I think I will be covered for it.”

Mr Jackson, who has been farming for 30 years and has a commercial stock of some 340 cattle, said people never think an incident like this would impact them.

“You always think that these things happen to somebody else, but lightning is so common and we can all be negligent with it.

“I am glad that nobody was in the field at the time,” said Mr Jackson.

“I still get an eerie feeling when I pass the spot on the road where we found them,” he added.

Last month, a father and two of his young children were struck by lightning as he picked them up from school.

George Allen (37) was collecting his children from Killowen Primary School in Lisburn, when he was hit by a bolt of lightning just metres away from their family car.

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