In a tragic incident, farmer Jared Blackwelder from Springfield, Missouri, experienced a devastating loss when his entire herd of 32 dairy cows was struck by lightning. The incident occurred during a spring rainstorm, and the cows had sought shelter under the trees in the pasture. Unfortunately, lightning struck the herd, causing all the cows to lose their lives.
Jared and his wife Misty had been feeding the cows that morning, completely unaware that it would be their last interaction with the herd. They left the cows to graze in the pasture until evening milking. However, upon their return just a few hours later, they were met with an empty pasture. To their horror, they found all 32 cows lying de’ad in a big pile inside the tree line.
A local veterinarian later confirmed that lightning was the cause of the tragic incident. The cows had huddled together under the trees during the storm, seeking protection from the rain. It was a heartbreaking sight for Jared, especially since he had personally raised each of the dairy cows and had a special connection with them due to the daily interactions involved in milking.
The loss was financially devastating for the Blackwelders, as each dairy cow was valued between $2,000 and $2,500. The estimated total loss exceeded $60,000. Though the family had insurance, they doubted it would cover such a significant loss.
Representatives from the local Farm Service Agency (FSA) reached out to the Missouri Farm Bureau to offer assistance. The FSA has a Livestock Indemnity Program designed to aid farmers in recovering from natural disasters such as lightning strikes, floods, or blizzards that cause significant herd losses.
Despite the support from the farming community, some critics blamed Jared for not providing adequate shelter for the cows. However, others, including MFB President Stan Cody, defended him, noting that many farmers in Missouri do not have separate buildings for their dairy or beef cows. The incident served as a stark reminder of the powerlessness farmers face against natural disasters like lightning strikes, emphasizing the impact such events can have on their livelihood.
The story highlights the vulnerability of farmers to the unpredictable forces of nature and the deep emotional connections they form with their animals. It also sheds light on the supportive farming community and the available resources to help farmers during difficult times. The tragic loss of the dairy cows has left a lasting impact on Jared and his family, serving as a reminder of the challenges and resilience of the farming life.