A vet believes 20 cows which were found dead on a mountain in Spain were killed by lightning which ‘froze’ their blood.
The animals reportedly died during a thunderstorm in the Geras Mountains in the municipality of Geras de Gordon, in Castilla y Leon region, in the north-central Spanish province of Leon.
The cattle were owned by a farmer from Santa Maria de Ordas who is said to have rented the whole mountain for the cows to graze on. The area is difficult to reach without a suitable vehicle but the animals were found strewn across the land after the storm.
A resident described the scene as ‘macabre’ to local media.
The regional government sent a team of veterinarians to take samples from the dead cows to try and determine their cause of death through a postmortem examination.
Footage of the scene was reportedly sent to a local vet, Jose Domingo Cuesta, who claimed he knew what had happened to the animals as soon as he watched the video because he had knowledge of similar cases.
According to the Mirror, he commented:
As soon as I saw it I said that the deaths had been caused by a lightning strike.
Cuesta said the lightning had struck the ground and spread through the land before travelling up through the cow’s hooves and ‘freezing’ their blood.
The vet continued:
For those large animals the effect is terrible. It goes into them, their blood is frozen.
It happens in natural circumstances, it is unpredictable. I have had cases where the lightning goes through a chimney, spreads through the barn and kills the animals.
The cows’ cause of death has not yet been confirmed and it’s unclear whether there’s any truth in their blood being frozen but large numbers of animals being killed by lightning is not unheard of.
More than 300 wild reindeer were killed by lightning at a Norwegian national park in 2016, while 68 Jersey cows were struck in Australia in 2005, resulting in the Guinness World Record for the largest recorded number of livestock killed by a single lightning bolt.
Steve Goodman, a scientist with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Satellite Service, has spoken in the past about how lightning can travel.
According to National Geographic, he said:
I’ve heard of groups of cow [getting killed] when it strikes the ground. The lightning can spread for hundreds and hundreds of metres, for sure.
Local media reports the cows in Spain will be removed from the area soon.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.