Those into keeping track of “world records” – not of the Olympic variety – will be interested in some curious but sad news recently out of Denmark. All three of the main Danish national papers carried the same report from the Danish press agency Ritzau yesterday (here it is, for example, in Berlingske Tidende) about how thirty-one cows were killed in a recent storm by a single bolt of lightning.

It happened last Tuesday morning, in a field just south of the mid-Jutland town of Herning. With the approaching storm, the cows had instinctively gathered together for some shelter beneath a tree, and were packed under there pretty tightly. Bad moo-ve: That tree turned out to be the destination for what the account calls “a lightning-bolt of several thousand volts.”

Farmer Kurt Nielsen, the cows’ owner, took the news rather hard in an interview with the Ritzau reporter. He was the one, after all, who ventured out into the fields only to encounter the huge pile of fried beef, and who had to head out to the barn that same evening for the routine milking and witness the reduced attendance. As for the insurance companies, they have never heard of any incident before of lightning killing more than ten animals at once. Neither has the Guinness World Records office in London.

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