Cattle electrocutions anger farmer

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The cows, worth about $2000 each, died after the powerline sagged to within their reach. Photo / Otago Daily Times
The cows, worth about $2000 each, died after the powerline sagged to within their reach. Photo / Otago Daily Times

An Otago farmer wants TrustPower to check on its transmission lines after eight of his dairy cows were electrocuted when a 33kV line taking electricity from the Waipori Dam dropped across his farm.

Alastair Kerr, of Taieri, said he wanted the electricity generator to do all it could to make sure his staff, animals and property were safe.

"Is this why we pay our lines charges?" Mr Kerr asked, turning to his cows.

At least one had suffered a severe flesh burn across its back and was lying in the thick mud below the drooping power line.

"They [TrustPower] have their lines on other people's land," he said. "They should be doing all they can to make sure nothing like this happens."

This was the least the company could do.

The cows were among 80 in the Maungatua Rd wintering paddock, on the Taieri Plain outside Dunedin, when a farm worker noticed the line was down, about 11am yesterday.

It was about 2m from the ground - a fatal, "licking distance". Four of the cows died instantly; the other four died from suspected heart attacks, Mr Kerr said. Each was worth about $2000.

"We've fed them through winter, we've got them through, and we'll not get anything like them to replace them, not now," Mr Kerr said.

TrustPower spokesman Graeme Purches said the line was tripped at 11.03am and contractor Delta was on site by 11.30am.

Investigations confirmed an insulator "failed" after heavy frost caused a split somewhere on the porcelain body.

Such failures were rare. The lines were checked every year, or after a fault, but such weather-prone cracks were not easily spotted.

Mr Purches said a full audit would require the line to be shut down while each individual insulator was checked. Such an audit appeared unlikely.

- OTAGO DAILY TIMES

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