Lightning Kills Rancher and Cattle

Rancher, Cattle Die From Lightning Strike As Herd Being Fed After Branding

Jennifer Carrico
By  Jennifer Carrico , Senior Livestock Editor
Lightning strikes while cattle graze in a pasture. (Progressive Farmer file photo by DaydreamsGirl, Getty Images)

REDFIELD, Iowa (DTN) -- A rancher and more than 30 of his cows were killed by a lightning strike May 25 near the small rural community of Rand, Colorado.

Mike Morgan, 51, was feeding cattle after the family had worked and branded the herd when the strike hit the trailer he was standing on. The lightning killed Morgan and knocked down around 100 cows and calves, the Jackson County Coroner George Crocket told Associated Press. All but 34 of the cattle survived.

A Facebook post on His Cavvy Foundation profile noted Mike Morgan's wife, Niki, was 200 feet away and knocked off her horse from the strike; his father-in-law was nearby but unharmed. The post said the family had recently purchased 300 cow-calf pairs of their own, which had been a longtime dream of theirs. Several of the cows that died left young calves orphaned, which will sell on auction on May 29.


Morgan, who had lived in the Walden area for many years, had also started working for the Silver Spur Ranches Walden division this past September. JT Brown, member of the Silver Spur Ranches Kiowa Creek division told DTN he met Morgan seven years ago through his wife's family who lives in the Walden area. "My first impression of Mike was he was a strong cowboy. As I got to know him, I found him to usually have a smile on his face and be in a good mood. I really looked up to him," Brown said. "He was a family man. A great husband to Niki and father to his daughter, Dallas. They are the 'grit your teeth and get it done' kind of people."

Brown continued to say Morgan was an asset wherever he was and would help get anything done in the Walden community. He assisted with rodeos and was a board member for the North Park Stockgrowers Association.

"Mike was a great example for me with my young family. He had good values and was always there for his family. They all worked together on their ranch," added Brown. "Death is a sad thing, but knowing he was a Christian helps us know he will be in heaven."

According to the National Lightning Safety Council, this is the first known lightning death of 2024. On average there have been 21 lightning deaths per year in the U.S. over the past 10 years.

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Jennifer Carrico