The farmer in the Loire-Atlantique department of western France has seen some 22 of his 46 cows die in a matter of days after overdosing on cereals.
According to Ouest-France newspaper, the cows escaped their enclosure during a night earlier this month and wandered into a neighbouring barn and began chomping on stocks of high-energy cereals.
The animals digested as much in just one night as they would normally do in the whole of winter.
“It’s like an overdose,” the famer Anthony Vaillant told the newspaper. “If they are eaten in too big a quantity, these cereals stop the digestive rumen function of the cows. And when the stomach does not work the cow becomes intoxicated.”
For the following four days the farmer could only watch on as his cattle began to die one by one.
Despite help from a vet, 22 of his cows died and among the surviving 24, most of them can no longer produce milk.
The farmer accepts the blame himself and his hoping the solidarity from neighbouring farmers will help rebuild his stock.