Thunder and lightning echoed through the prairies last Friday night, leaving a southwest Saskatchewan farmer and his family to discover a devastating scene on Sunday morning.
The Briere family is now facing a tremendous loss, both financially and emotionally, after lightning struck their pasture, leaving 28 cattle deceased.
“It's pretty emotional when you see your livelihood laying out there,” remarked Glen Briere, a fourth-generation farmer that has dedicated his life to the family farm for the last 30 years.
Located southeast of Swift Current, the Briere farm was established near Mankota in 1912.
Glen’s wife, Darla, elaborated on the irreplaceable loss to the family's herd.
“In the purebred business, there's genetics and breeding that goes into it,” she explained. “We spend a lot of time trying to raise the best animals and get the right genetics, and that takes years and years to develop.
“We've lost some good cows, but we can never replace that line of breeding. So that is just something that can't be replaced.”
The couple was out of town at the time of the incident, when a relative checking in on the herd, made the shocking discovery.
The unfortunate incident left one herd sire, 14 cows, and 13 calves dead along a fence in the family’s pasture.
All of the animals on the Briere’s farm are registered with the Canadian Angus Association and undergo DNA testing to keep track of their genetic make-up.
As one of their primary sources of income, the family holds an annual bull sale to sell what they have bred, which will take a considerable hit this year.
Of the 28 animals that were killed from the lightning strike, only the bull was insured.
The family is still in shock and assessing the full extent of the damage to the remaining 52-head herd.
“We only had two out of the 28 head, that one was the mom, and one was the daughter or son,” Glen stated. “The rest have no mommas now and the moms have no babies.”
Despite the tragedy, the family is doing their best to remain positive.
“We had 80 pair in that pasture where these 28 died,” Glen stated. “We could have lost 80, but we're very fortunate we only lost 28.”
The family is currently looking into any programs or funding that may be able to help compensate for their loss.
“It could have been worse,” he added. “It could have been more animals, but it was a pretty big hit for us. It's devastating, but we'll get through it.”