• Technical Note: Mechanical despining of plains pricklypear

      Mueller, D. M.; Forwood, J. R. (Society for Range Management, 1994-09-01)
      Plains pricklypear cactus (Opuntia polyacantha L.) is abundant on the Central Great Plains, producing dry matter yields from 1,500 to 2,000 kg/ha. Although pricklypear is high in energy and palatable, long sharp spines make it, and vegetation immediately surrounding it, unavailable to livestock. The possibility of simultaneously controlling and feeding plains pricklypear led to development of machinery for harvesting and despining cactus. The mechanical despiner described here adequately removed spines from pads during periods of low relative humidity. Softening of cactus spines due to high relative humidity resulted in failure of the despiner to adequately remove spines. Cattle readily ate despined cactus in the winter when green forage was unavailable.