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Dairy farmer describes scene during overnight storm that killed dozens of cows

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Posted at 12:59 PM, Dec 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 14:41:25-05

SILVER LAKE, Mich. — A West Michigan farmer lost 70-80 of his cows after they were killed in an overnight storm this week.

Tim Butler tells Fox 17 that’s about one-third of his total herd at his dairy farm in Sand Lake.

It happened after a power pole landed on the milking barn when wind gusts exceeded 60 miles per hour in western and northern Michigan Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

RELATED: Wild winds cut power, rip school roof; dozens of cows dead

When Butler called 911, he says the fire department came out but couldn’t do anything.

He added that it took almost an hour-and-a-half to contact Consumers Energy and get them to shut off the power.

During that time, he says he could hear cows crying out in pain as the electricity shocked them.

Nearly the entire farm was electrified, with sparks flying off the other buildings.

All the milking equipment inside the barn will need to be torn out and replaced before milking cows can return to the farm. About 100 cows have been moved to three other farms in the area and will be milked there for now, Butler says.

A “small number” of cows that aren’t lactating right now remain at the farm.

Butler says a farmhand was in the barn when the pole came crashing down, but he was likely saved by his rubber muck boots. One other person was also inside at the time and is also unhurt.

Neighbors helped clean the barn of the dead cows, took the remaining ones and have been offering other help.

For now, the pole has a temporary fix in place.

Butler says his insurance should cover the cost of replacing his equipment and cows.