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Porcupine + Cows = Big Mess! part 1 of 2

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JF Ranch

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A few weeks ago, on a Friday afternoon my employee called me by radio to say he had found some cows with porcupine quills in their faces. Initially he thought as many as 7 or 8 head were affected.

I changed plans for the remainder of the afternoon and decided to see how many we could get taken care of. We were able to pair off 6 of the worst ones and take them to a set of corrals about a mile away. In a chute with nose tongs we went to work, pulled the offensive quills and returned the cattle to the pasture late in the evening. About half of the cows also had them in their feet and legs, both front and back. Nearly every quill was buried at least a half inch deep and in the fleshier tissue many were an inch or more. Some were imbedded an inch and a half. There were no calves involved.

The following week we went back to get the rest of them and after carefully checking the entire bunch, came up with another 12 head, 18 cows all together.

In my lifetime, I've only porcupine trouble a few times and it only happened to 1 or 2 head at a time. I've never seen anything like this before and am curious if other folks have seen a mess like this.

Since no one was present to witness the event, I can only imagine that these curious and protective mommas swarmed around the varmint, sniffing and head butting him. The porcupine must have tried to escape by ducking between the bovines, getting quills in their legs and feet. I wish I could have been there!

Here, we are bringing in the first 6 head:
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In this green bucket are all of the quills we took out of the first 6 cows:
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More pictures to follow in part 2
 

Big Muddy rancher

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That is a bad deal. Usually it is only a couple of cows. I had one last year that must have head butted one and ended up with quills in her eye.

I shoot every porker I see. Except the three in the oat field i was baling late one night last week. :?
 

Grassfarmer

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Wow that's quite the mess. Amazing that none of the calves got any given their curiosity. We have never had more than one animal affected at a time and it's usually a nosy calf. Your silver calves look great - good to see someone putting hybrid vigor to use in it's proper place.
 

L\3 Ranch

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So sorry your cows got mixed up with one of them.
We've had one hear all summer terrorizing our dogs, luckily most of our cows are out on lease. Finally caught up with him about 1am the other night. Estimated weight 25-30lbs here's a pic

2009_0919_111340.jpg
 

hillsdown

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You have too much beautiful pasture that is why all the trouble. The porcupines can't see the cattle and vice a verse.. :lol:

Have been there but never that many. The scary ones are the quills right on the eye lids or by the eye. After pull them I always give a good hard shot of LA pen and an antiinflammatory.


Looks like you caught them before the quills did any real damage.
 

JF Ranch

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Initially, I tried calling a Vet about it but he was gone, so I talked to his assistant. Her main concern was about those around the eyes. Nothing was said about giving any antibiotics or other drugs. We sprayed them with an alcohol-iodine mixture though.

Does anyone know what would result if nothing was done? Would they fester out eventually?
 

Big Muddy rancher

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JF Ranch said:
Initially, I tried calling a Vet about it but he was gone, so I talked to his assistant. Her main concern was about those around the eyes. Nothing was said about giving any antibiotics or other drugs. We sprayed them with an alcohol-iodine mixture though.

Does anyone know what would result if nothing was done? Would they fester out eventually?

I think they fester in before they come out. :?
 

Faster horses

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A rancher here just leaves them and he says they take care of themselves. I know I was concerned about that when Mr. FH left
one without getting her in to remove them, but...they disappeared.

That being said, I don't think there was as many as what your
cows got, nor as close to the eyes.
 

hillsdown

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Big Muddy rancher said:
JF Ranch said:
Initially, I tried calling a Vet about it but he was gone, so I talked to his assistant. Her main concern was about those around the eyes. Nothing was said about giving any antibiotics or other drugs. We sprayed them with an alcohol-iodine mixture though.

Does anyone know what would result if nothing was done? Would they fester out eventually?

I think they fester in before they come out. :?

I think that would be the end result as well .They more than likely would work their way in further and cause all sorts of problems. In the case of quills I think benign neglect is not the route to take.
 

Mrs Leanin' H

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My skin hurts just looking at these pictures. Keep an eye out for a naked porcupine and you could take a poke at him.......with lead!
 

RSL

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We used to have a neighbour lady that took all the dead porcupines she could get. She did beautiful leather work and quill work. Maybe you should take that sample and get into the "value added" market. You might even switch your cowherd out for one with a little tougher haircoat :shock: :shock: :shock:
 

mrj

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Not sure if it's fact, or "old rancher tale", but have heard the quills are barbed so that they work in instead of coming out. Maybe festering renders that point invalid???

No one has been able to tell me of any redeeming quality for a porcupine with the possible exception of quillwork. Anyone know of a real purpose in nature for them? I believe their killing of trees justifies killing them, at least in places like western SD where trees are difficult to grow, and are a precious thing.

mrj
 
A

Anonymous

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Faster horses said:
A rancher here just leaves them and he says they take care of themselves. I know I was concerned about that when Mr. FH left
one without getting her in to remove them, but...they disappeared.

That being said, I don't think there was as many as what your
cows got, nor as close to the eyes.

I've seen that done quite often- especially with cattle out in the big pasture with no corrals/handling facilities... And they seem to fester out eventually with no problem....
 

Frank in West Dakota

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mrj said:
Not sure if it's fact, or "old rancher tale", but have heard the quills are barbed so that they work in instead of coming out. Maybe festering renders that point invalid???

No one has been able to tell me of any redeeming quality for a porcupine with the possible exception of quillwork. Anyone know of a real purpose in nature for them? I believe their killing of trees justifies killing them, at least in places like western SD where trees are difficult to grow, and are a precious thing.

mrj

They keep the dog trainers and dog hunters away! :p :lol2: :nod:
 

JF Ranch

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mrj said:
Not sure if it's fact, or "old rancher tale", but have heard the quills are barbed so that they work in instead of coming out. Maybe festering renders that point invalid???

Although the quills appear to be quite smooth, they do seem to feel slightly rough near the point, which under a microscope might prove to be serrations or barbs. The vet assistant suggested that they continue to work in deeper and therefore the reason she was concerned about any that were stuck near the eyes.

We used pliers, but most of them were not hard to pull out, even with our fingers. My guess is that most of them would fester out by themselves. We could not however let this event go, to see if it would take care of itself.
 

CattleArmy

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Picking them out of a dog is a job I can't imagine a 1200 lb. cow. :?
 

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