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The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that lightning is responsible for 80% of all accidental livestock deaths. Given the frequency of lightning and thunderstorms, we often underestimate the dangers that they bring. And while it may be an uncommon occurrence, a single incident can be devastating to a herd if the lightning jumps between animals. It’s impossible to stop lightning from striking, but there are measures you can take to protect your livestock and control where it strikes. Read our tips below to learn how you can keep your animals safe.
- Install a lightning protection system. These can be installed during the construction of a shelter or after the shelter is built. They work by diverting the lightning to a specific location safely away from livestock ad structures or equipment that would be damaged.
- Build shelters and enclosures at lower elevations. As lightning will always try to find the quickest path to the ground with the least resistance, higher areas are more likely to be struck by lightning.
- Put up fences around tall and solitary trees. Animals will often seek shelter under these trees during thunderstorms, but this only makes them more likely to be struck. Fences will encourage them to seek shelter in safer locations.
- Ensure that gates, shelters, and enclosures are securely shut. Thunder and lightning can spook animals, causing them to flee to more dangerous areas.
- Keep animals away from water. Lightning can strike without rain, so animals might not seek cover before it’s too late. If a storm is rolling in, ensure your animals have been moved to a safe location.
- Build shelters away from trees and power lines. If a tree is taller than a shelter and within three meters lightning can jump, potentially causing damage to the structure and any animals inside. Overhead or nearby power lines can collapse if struck by lightning, which can also be disastrous for buildings and animals.
- Ensure that all structures and shelters, tall trees, and metal fencing are properly grounded. As lightning always takes the quickest path to the ground with the least resistance, grounding safely diverts the current by providing it with an alternate, optimal path.