10 dairy cows killed when lightning hits tree on farm Animals sought shelter from storm in Linwood

August 12, 1998|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

Lightning killed 10 cows Monday at a dairy farm in Linwood after they had apparently converged under a tree during a storm.

Such behavior isn't uncommon for cows during a storm, but to have so many struck dead by lightning is unusual, said David L. Greene, director of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Office in Westminster. The last such case he recalls was about 12 years ago, when a farmer lost 18 cows.

The loss of 10 at once hits farmer Gary Bowerman hard. His herd had numbered 90 before Monday's storm hit the farm, near New Windsor. About 60 cows in the herd were being milked, and the 10 killed included some of his top producers, he said. Another cow was injured so badly that he said he would have to destroy it.

Bowerman discovered the cows about 2: 30 p.m., he said, and walked back to his house in tears.

"I'm feeling pretty blue right now," he said. "We don't have any insurance. It will be a total loss."

Milk prices were just starting to rise, he said. He estimated the loss at $12,000 to replace the cows, plus about $75 a day in lost revenue from the milk.

"Farmers are at the mercy of nature," Greene said. "When you're in business, you can control a lot of things. But farmers are working with a biological system."

Bowerman said he and his wife, Margaret, are grateful none of their eight children was hurt.

He saw lightning strike the ground Monday between his wife and their 5-year-old daughter.

Pub Date: 8/12/98

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