Over 200 Calves Lost In Amish Barn Fire

Images: WNDU

Over 200 calves died following an explosion and fire which ravaged an Amish farmer’s barn yesterday. From WNDU:

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) – An Amish calf barn caught on fire this afternoon, killing the majority of the family’s calves.

The call came in around 4:30 p.m. Crews responded to the 59000 block of State Road 13 in Middlebury.

Neighboring fire departments assisted.

Crews said they were able to get the fire under control in about 30 minutes.

The family escaped but it sounds like the fire took things over too quickly for the owner to do much for the animals:

According to the Middlebury Fire Chief Jeff Wogoman, the owner and his children were inside the barn when the fire started, but all got out and none were injured.

“He noticed and heard an explosion type….turned around and part of the building was on fire. He got everyone out and immediately called 911,” Wogoman said.

Of 270 calves, just 29 survived:

“Once we started digging into it, yeah we found several of them. Yeah, I was pretty shocked myself…[The owner] was shaken up at first obviously; he lost his whole barn and animals, but I think once we started pulling some out that were alive, it lifted some of his spirits a little bit,” Wogoman said.

You can see some of the surviving calves being rescued in this screen captures:

The fire chief described the fire as “intense”, and on the fact that any calves even survived, says “I was pretty shocked myself.”

It’s not known what caused the fire.

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    1. Alex Knisely

      Were these all bull calves, being deprived of proper food -- with iron in it --

      — and given only a starvation diet of milk to keep them from making the proteins that turn veal pink rather than white ?

      The first book of Moses, verse 28 (our Genesis) — Und Gott segnete sie und sprach zu ihnen: Seid fruchtbar und mehrt euch und füllt die Erde und macht sie euch untertan und herrscht über die Fische im Meer und über die Vögel unter dem Himmel und über alles Getier, das auf Erden kriecht (And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth).

      I wish that God had also spoken, saying — Seid ruecksichtsvoll. Seid barmherzig zum Getier, das Ihr beherrschet. That is, be careful. Be merciful to the beasts that you command.

      Including bull calves raised for veal.

      1. Geo

        Milk replacer

        Do you refer to milk replacer? It’s not only Amish practice to give calves “milk replacer”, to speed up growth or maybe as you say to make veal. I seem to recall “milk replacer” contains slaughter blood which to the non-agricultural mind may be off-putting. Milk replacer was controversial as a possible way mad cow spread via the blood content. It was decades ago and I don’t know what became of the controversy.

    2. Jeff Baker

      That seems like too big of an operation for an Amish farm.

      1. Geo

        Big operation?

        I also thought 270 calves sounded big. Maybe we English tend to think the Amish and big business/agriculture are not compatible. I suspect large scale operations don’t necessarily violate any ordnung.

      2. If they were milking 200+ adult cows, that would be extremely large for an Amish farm. This however was an operation that raised calves, so that’s something different.

        1. Jeff Baker

          You still need 200 cows to have the calves – That’s huge and takes a lot of land to succeed. It’s a money making operation – not a work to survive thing. This is not what I think of as Amish.

          1. Alex Knisely

            "You still need 200 cows to have the calves" -- yeah but, Jeff, they don't have to be YOUR cows

            A cow needs to come fresh if she’s to yield milk. That involves bearing a calf or two. The bull calves and the freemartins are surplus, as may be the heifers if they were sired by a scrub bull rather than by a stud selected for good lines with regard to milk production. The surplus calves go to the auction barn. You bid them in and take them back to your farm. That’s how you get more than 200 in your barn. OK ?

            1. Jeff Baker

              It’s still a huge operation than what a typical or historical Amish farm would produce.

              1. Alex Knisely

                "Still a huge operation"

                Jeff, you may be right. — Thinking back to acquaintances in New Wilmington (PA), definitely plain : One spring morning I drove in to say hello and found that they had about twenty veal calves fattening, not in a barn, but staked and chained outside individual doghouses set out along their lane. That was thirty years ago. Not two hundred, but still . . . Or to travels in Jay County (IN), just north of Portland — plainer than the New Wilmington folks, no roofs on their buggies ! — where again and again I saw long, low, whitewashed cinderblock buildings, fans whirring to keep the air inside moving, in which, I was told, Amish folks were raising laboratory-experiment rats. That was twenty years ago, and that had me scratching my head for a while. Maybe with regard to how the Amish farm we should take a cue from our President, say “It is what it is”, and leave the matter lying there on the ground as we walk away.

    3. TomK

      Cell phone or phone box?

      “He noticed and heard an explosion type….turned around and part of the building was on fire. He got everyone out and immediately called 911,” Wogoman said.“

      1. Jeff Baker

        I saw that too – He called 911- Are these Amish or Mennonite?

        1. Alex Knisely

          "Are these Amish or Mennonite ?"

          Could be either.

          I know Amish folks with a phone in the barn. In the office shed, along with other electrics. At the end of the lane in a phone box. At the English neighbour’s next door. In the glove-compartment box of the buggy used by the teenage son who hasn’t yet made up his mind to join the church.

          They’d all answer your query — Are you Mennonite or Amish ? — without a moment’s thought : We’re Amish.

          Surely no point in telling them, No you’re not.

    4. Pat Monti

      Are these Amish or Mennonite

      MANY Amish in our area, central Illinois, have cell phones. They simply don’t share that information with many.

    5. Pat Monti

      Over 200 Calves Lost In Amish Barn Fire

      IMO if they’d left the doors that they exited open, many calves should have escaped on their own. Furthermore, I can’t help but wonder if they’d attempted to herd them out during their exit, if more wouldn’t have survived.

      1. Monday morning quarterbacking an explosion and fire disaster…really? I highly doubt the man neglected saving his animals if it were physically possible to do that without putting himself or family in danger.