Heavy Snowfall to Blame for Roof Collapse that Killed Cows

Several dairy cows were killed following the collapse of a barn roof in central Alberta earlier this year. The owners of the barn had been working in the building, but were taking around 8 a.m. when the collapse occurred.

Devon Simmelink, a third generation dairy farmer, said that he jumped up to call a veterinarian and the fire department when he heard the crash. “I figured there were 40 or 50 cows dead, and you know, my heart sank,” says Simmelink.

Volunteer fire departments, a veterinarian, neighbors, fellow dairy farmers, relatives, and workers from a local oil company all came to help the Simmelink family rescue their cows. “We moved the cows out –moved the ones we could– and then started digging through the rubble and we surprised to find most o them alive,” says Devon.

The Simmelink family was fortunate that they only lost six cows, and five calves in the collapse. Four more were seriously injured, but Devon feels “really blessed” that the situation did not turn out as bad as it could have been.

Simmelink Barn is the Tenth Dairy Farm Roof Collapse In Central Alberta

Areas of central Alberta have experienced three times more snowfall than usual. David Simmelink, Devon’s father, says that the heavy snowfall is unlike any he’s experienced. “I can’t remember a year like this. There have been years you get snow, but you get a Chinook, and it’ll slide off. It wouldn’t accumulate like it has this year.”

The surviving cows were taken to neighboring dairy farmers as the Simmelinks assessed the damage, and plan repairs to their barn. The farm’s insurance company says that it doesn’t cover snow pack collapses that occur to buildings over 15 years old –the family estimates that the damages will cost them around $1 million to repair.

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Posted on March 5th, 2014