A New Brunswick family is mourning the devastating loss of 19 cattle that died when a lightning bolt struck a tree near the herd on the weekend.

John Morgan says he heard some calves crying out Saturday morning on his farm in Upper Hainsville. He was surprised to find several of them dead when he went outside to investigate.

“There were four calves still alive and the other 19 laying there in a pile under the trees,” he says.

Morgan suspects a severe lightning storm that occurred the night before fatally wounded the cattle.

“I seen that bolt of lightning out towards my farm so I said something got hit because it just came down and there was a big bang,” he says.

Morgan checked his farm buildings that night, as well as his neigbours’ buildings, to ensure there was no damage from the storm. But he was shocked to find his calves dead the next morning.

He says a bolt of lightning struck and split his fir tree with the electrical current hitting the ground and electrocuting any living thing within a 25 to 30-foot radius, which included 19 of his 24 cattle.

Morgan and his family have since buried the cows.

“We haven’t been sleeping good at night,” says Cathy Morgan.

She says her family has been dealing with not only the loss of the cattle, but also the fear of what else could have happened. A second lightning bolt hit a tree located just steps from their home.

“It could have hit the house. It could have burned the house. It could have hit one of our neighbours. It could have killed a person,” she says.

She also says her family is feeling the tremendous impact, both financially and emotionally, after the cows’ death. The 19 cattle were worth about $25,000 but the Morgans say that’s not their greatest concern right now.

“I love cattle,” says John Morgan, who plans to continue raising cattle. “I love to keep them. I love to watch them grow.”

With files from CTV Atlantic's Nick Moore