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A case of presumed lightning strike

Bruce Watt, Tablelands Livestock and Health Authority, Bathurst

Posted Flock & Herd March 2012


The owner of a sheep property 45 km east of Bathurst presented the photograph below of 15 of 70 sheep found dead under a tree. The mob consisted of 70 August 2011-drop sheep, 30 of which were Corriedale ram lambs and 40 were Corriedale Dorset cross lambs. They were vaccinated with 6:1 plus selenium at marking, and vaccinated again with 6:1 plus selenium and B12 after shearing in November. The lambs were weaned onto a crop of Winfred forage brassica in late December, when they were drenched with abamectin and closantel and again vaccinated with 6:1.

Owner's observations

No deaths or illness was noted in the lambs prior to the 20th February 2012 when 15 sheep were found dead under a tree. In addition, a ram lamb was found bright and alert but recumbent 400 metres away. The lambs, previously in apparently good health and weighing 50-65 kg, appeared to have been dead 2-3 days when the owner discovered them. He did not observe burn marks on either the sheep or the tree.

Image of dead sheep under a tree
Fifteen sheep found dead under a tree


While these lambs were not the subject of a veterinary investigation the pattern of death is suggestive of lightning strike. The deaths occurred at a time of substantial storm activity. A case of presumed lightning strike has been presented on www.flockandherd.net.au previously.


I would like to acknowledge Rick Hoolihan, the owner of the sheep who also supplied the photograph.


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