Lightning kills 45 head of cattle on ranch near Darby


Lightning kills 45 head of cattle on ranch near Darby

DARBY, Mont. - The video for this story may not be suitable for all viewers. It contains disturbing pictures.

It happened on a ranch near Darby in the late evening hours of July 14.

Forty-five head of cattle were struck and killed by lightning, devastating the majority of a rancher's herd.

Reached by phone out-of-state, Darby rancher Jean Taylor said, "There was lots of thunder that night, lots of lightning."

She said she didn't know it struck her cows, calves and a prized bull until the next morning when her rancher found them bunched together under crabapple trees.

Darby Marshal Larry Rose said, "45 of them were piled up, under short, little trees."

He said there were "taller trees around there, but the lightning chose to hit the smaller trees."

Cattle often bunch together under trees in bad weather.

Jean Taylor told us only 11 of her prized herd survived.

"It was disgusting," said Rose. "I felt so sorry. It was unbelievable to see that many cows piled up in one bunch. It was a tremendous loss."

The financial loss of these cattle could be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Craig Britton from the Missoula Livestock Exchange said cow-calf pairs are selling from $2,500 to $3,000 per pair."

That doesn't even count the loss of future offspring when the breeding cows were killed.

Darby can be a hot spot for lightning.

Besides the livestock tragedy, a couple years ago, several people were struck by lightning at a rodeo in Darby.

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