Cattle Mutilations Solved
March 7, 2021
I’m a rancher who raises cattle. I believe cattle “mutilations” are natural decomposition. And I have evidence – take a look.
“Cattle mutilation” is a term applied to what has been presumed to be unnatural death of cattle with characteristic coring of udder, rectum, lips, and eyes, along with absence of noticeable blood. Some owners additionally report coincident events such as silent black helicopters, strange craft or lights in the sky, or paraphernalia such as a gas mask left on the ground.
Prior to owning cattle, I, too, was intrigued with the mystery of livestock mutilations. This fascination lasted for a couple of decades, even as I grew my own herd. After more than twenty years, two of my cows died several months apart, I was unable to find someone with a backhoe to bury them, and I had the opportunity to watch the decomposition process firsthand.
After trying to educate some of the journalists who routinely reported on livestock mutilations, and receiving no response, it occurred to me that mystique sells. People love a mystery, and love to participate in solving a puzzle – it even creates community. But participants may feel let down if that solution is mundane. If journalists, reporters, and news media have profited from keeping the mystery alive, they have no incentive to report on a solution. The “natural predation and decomposition” theory has been around for decades, but I haven’t seen it documented with photos or video, and honestly, it seemed too banal to afford it much thought. If this documentation of the process with photos and video spoils the mystique, then we’ll all just have to move on to another mystery – how about crop circles?
I want to make clear that I’m not explaining the deaths, themselves. I know the cause of death in these two cases. I cannot presume to know or even guess the cause of death of anyone else’s livestock. I’m explaining the so-called “mutilation” that occurs after the death.
The tissues generally involved in the “unexplained coring” are soft organs and tissues. Soft tissue and thin skin at the natural openings of mouth, eyes, udder, and rectum provide easy access for organisms of decomposition such as flies, beetles, and bacteria to enter the body. It is these tissues that disappear first after death. Bacteria begin decomposing the carcass, flies and beetles lay eggs in decaying flesh, and maggots consume the soft tissue. Soft internal organs also are quick to be consumed. The lips, eyes, udder, and rectal areas disappear, leaving a rounded gap of smooth and evidently seared skin. Note that ancient and revived medical practices have successfully used maggots to clean wounds.
The hair-covered hide of most of a cow’s body is thick and tough. Depending on climate and environment, the hide can remain for years after the soft tissues of the cow have decomposed. The thick, hair-covered skin may only grow stiffer and tougher before eventually succumbing to the elements of weather and nature over a period of years – again, depending on climate and predation.
In addition to the traditionally cored features, the carcass shown below includes a similar large hole on the left side of the chest. Though not at one of the characteristic coring locations, it provides a nice example of the smooth rounding and “searing” or sealing of the skin typically seen with the coring events. This hole likely began as a tear in the hide due to bloating soon after death. Though well-fed to begin with, the carcass is rounded with bloating. The “searing” of the edges is due to the action of the insect larvae present in the carcass. The flies are blowflies. Blowflies eat carrion and feces, but females lay eggs only in carrion, or occasionally in open wounds on live animals. Fly larvae hatch from the eggs and feed on the carcass. Sterilized blowfly larvae sometimes are used to clean and promote repair in human wounds that had resisted healing.
Absence of evident bleeding coupled with lack of blood on the ground is often cited as evidence of unknown forces at work in cattle mutilations. Yet, this is normal. When livestock or other animals die of natural causes in the field, there normally is no blood evident. It would coagulate rather than run out onto the ground. External blood would be expected only if the animal fell prey to severe laceration prior to death, or if internal hemorrhaging was associated with the cause of death.
A cattle mutilation is not a case of slaughter by unknown entities that suck the blood from the animal and then use laser or alien technology to cut out the lips, udder, rectum, and eyes, before disappearing into the night.
No footprints? Between the grass and the hard-packed ground, that’s not remarkable. Here, the ground is a hardpacked adobe soil nearly as tough as concrete when dry. Even much later in the decomposition process when coyotes have moved the bones, it’s rare to see footprints. These animals are not being airlifted, slaughtered, drained of blood, and dropped back into the pasture.
The animal dies, the blood coagulates, and natural elements of decay set in, first affecting the softest tissues and gaining entry to the interior of the body. Blowflies may arrive within minutes of death, each female laying about 250 eggs in open wounds or natural openings of the body, and first-stage larvae (maggots) can hatch from their eggs within 12 to 23 hours. Larvae begin consuming fluids, skin, and fecal matter, which will be most accessible where the eggs have been laid at the openings such as eyes, mouth, udder, and rectum, or at a laceration. These areas and tender internal organs will be consumed and disappear. There are multiple species of blowfly, including green bottle flies, blue bottle flies, black blow flies, and others. The speed at which blowflies metamorphose is dependent on species and temperature. At 70 degrees Fahrenheit, black blowfly larvae will molt into second-stage and third-stage larvae at up to 27 and 22 additional hours, respectively. Still at 70 degrees, the third-stage larvae will move away from the body and become pupae at another 130 hours, and emerge as an adult blowfly after another 143 hours. This is the process that is easily observed when an onsite rancher has the opportunity to watch the natural forces of decay at work on a carcass from day to day.
The photographs in this article show natural forces decomposing soft-tissue organs of two deceased cows. Initial decomposition occurs in a manner commonly referred to – in the context of cattle mutilations – as “coring.” At work are insects in both adult and larval forms, as well as bacteria. The carcass shown above has a hole in the left shoulder/chest area in addition to those at the rectal and udder locations. A photo of this cow’s rectal coring is shown below. Coyotes did not approach either carcass until months after death.
Cattle mutilations are simply natural decomposition wrought by natural forces such as adult and larval insects as well as bacteria.
Photos not for the squeamish
These cows died from natural causes. The pregnant heifer died after going into labor and failing to give birth. The 23-year-old cow died of old age. Both have been decaying naturally. Apparent coring of rectum, udders, and lips occurred from natural causes, shown here to be flies, beetles, and their larvae or maggots. There were no silent black helicopters. No lasers or alien technology. No gas masks or other paraphernalia left on the ground. No sightings of mysterious aircraft, either human-made or alien. It’s nature at work.
Below: Hundreds of larvae (maggots) where the older cow’s udder had been. Beyond the blowflies, additional species of larvae and insects have yet to be identified.
The photo below of the young cow’s carcass shows rectal coring. Note thousands of tiny larvae on the righthand side. Lots of small organisms at work in both photos.
The young cow’s udder (not pictured) had similarly disappeared.
Note the small maggots at work along the edge of the skin.
The culprit in cattle (and other livestock) mutilations is a cadre of insects and their larvae working in concert with certain bacteria. Additional types of larvae are shown in more video not included here. There’s some background sound of wind in the video. (If it’s initially slow to play, let it load and then play it a second time.)
Though a specific cause of death may be unknown, the mystery of cattle mutilations is solved.
Black blowfly metamorphosis information from:
Visible Proofs: Forensic views of the body, National Institutes of Health (NIH), US National Library of Medicine (NLM) https://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/visibleproofs/galleries/technologies/blowfly.html#:~:text=Adult%20female%20blow%20flies%20arrive,the%20body%20and%20open%20wounds.