Cow herder Georg Buchegger was shocked to discover all but one of his herd dead under a tree on Sunday, after they were struck by lightning while sheltering from a storm.
A photograph taken by Buchegger shows the dead cows laid strewn across the ground around the tree in the alpine meadow near the town of Strobl in Salzburg.
According to the Krone newspaper, the only cow from the 19-strong herd to survive is appropriately called 'Glück', which means Lucky.
Photo: Georg Buchegger
The others, which included 12 pregnant cows, five calves and one young animal, were called ‘Nelli’, ‘Herta’, ‘Blume’, ‘Segen’, ‘Zita’, ‘Gusti’, ‘Nelke’, ‘Almrausch’, ‘Blia’, ‘Butter’, ‘Berta’, ‘Glück I.’, ‘Edelweiß’, ‘Bläemei’, ‘Kunigunde’, ‘Königin’, ‘Sandra’ and ‘Max’.
With each cow worth around €1,300 and the calves €800, the financial damage from the deaths amounts to around €20,000.
“But the damage can be covered by insurance,” said the herder when speaking to media on Wednesday. He added, however, that the emotional loss is also large. “Because everyone is attached to his animals,” he said.
It is not the first time in Austria that a herd of animals has been killed by lightning.
Alexandra Meinhart, from the Salzburg Chamber of Agriculture, told the Kurier newspaper: “We see this repeatedly. I remember a lightning strike in St. Koloman a few years ago. That time, ten horses were struck.”