A Co. Monaghan-based dairy farmer has lost two cows in recent weeks following a spate of attacks on his herd from what a local vet believes to have been a pine marten.
Speaking to Agriland, the farmer, who wishes to remain unnamed but is situated on the Cavan/Monaghan border, said: “So far, we have lost two cows but there have been several of our cows attacked.
“The first incident happened on about February 16, when I went into the cow shed at around 9:00p.m and there was a cow standing on a cubicle, and there was blood teeming from her milk vein.
“I rang the local vet straight away and the vet told me to clamp the vein or the cow would die in the next few minutes.”
The farmer explained that he followed the vet’s orders and got the blood to stop flowing until the vet arrived.
Continuing, he said: “The vet came out and examined the cow and couldn’t find the wound where the blood was coming from because it had clotted.
“We looked and looked and couldn’t see anything and when we were letting the cow go, the blood started coming out again. It was just flowing out of what was like a tooth mark in the cow’s milk vein.”
He explained that despite the vet’s best efforts, the cow didn’t survive and “was dead within 20 minutes”.
He explained that on another occasion when taking the cows from the shed to the milking parlor, he went out after milking to the yard and there “was blood everywhere”.
He said that he could see where the cow had been lying on a cubicle and where something “obviously had bitten the cow”. When she stood up, the blood “teemed everywhere” he said.
The farmer then proceeded to another cubicle shed where he found “the exact same thing”.
Fortunately for these two cows, their bites were not as bad as the first cow and they had stopped bleeding by the time they got to the milking parlor.
He noted that a few weeks passed where there were “only one or two minor incidents of the biting”.
Photos of the attacks: (warning: graphic)
The trouble returned last Monday morning (May 2) .
“I was going to do the morning milking last week and I went into the shed to look around the cows first and there was my big cow standing up and she was just at her last five minutes. She had bled out that night and was dead in five minutes,” the farmer said.
The farmer explained that his vet has said the evidence would suggest it is a pine marten that is causing the harm.
“After the second cow died, the vet came out and looked around the farm everywhere and concluded something is biting the cows and said it looks like it’s a pine marten,” the farmer said.
There are a number of pine martens in the area and the farmer has since installed a camera to see if he can “get evidence of the pine marten going into the shed”.
Pine marten attacks on smaller livestock such as poultry or young lambs are not uncommon, but a fatal attack on a cow from a pine marten is most unusual.