Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Interesting Advice from 1808 on the Care of the Cow that Prematurely Calves or Aborts


How to Manage and Care for the Cow that has Prematurely Calved (or slipped) their Calf - from The Complete Grazier, 1808, by Thomas Hartwell Horne

". . . But where a cow slips, or casts her calf prematurely, she must be tended with great care; and ,whatever may be the cause, whether abusive treatment, violent exercise, bruises or blows, or that unnatural appetite known by the name of longing, every animal that has slipped her calf should be carefully separated from the rest of the herd.  Cleanliness which is an essential requisite in the general management of cattle, ought in this instance to be an object of special attention; and, as cows which are liable to drop their calves usually evince some preparatory symptoms between the cause of the abortion and the actual slipping of the fetus, it will not be altogether useless to bleed them two or three times, as this expedient has sometimes operated as a preventive."

"After, however, the calf is produced, it will be necessary to assist the natural functions of the animal in order to carry off the secandines * provided in the uterus for nourishing the fetus; and which, continuing there in consequence of abortion, would become putrescent, and thus occasion a disagreeable odour that would quickly communicate an infection among other breeding cows."

"For this purpose we would, at all times, recommend the following mixture to be given the cow as soon after calving as possible:  Let about three quarts of water simmer over the fire; and, when warm, strew in as much oatmeal as will be sufficient to make a strong gruel, carefully stirring the whole, till it boils, that no lumps may arise; then add one quart of ale (or two of table beer) and one pound of treacle (molasses), and carefully incorporate the different ingredients by stirring.  This mixture should be given lukewarm: it is peculiarly grateful to cows, which (particularly young ones) will drink it eagerly, after the first hornful, and are thus prevented from taking cold.  And, as it is of importance to regulate the state of the body, this object may be effected by giving a mash of bran wetted with warm water."

"Further, it will be necessary to milk the cows, especially if they be full of flesh and the udder hard, three or four times a day, for two or three days, and the calf should be suffered to suck as frequently, if in the house; or, in the field to run with her and suck at pleasure; care being taken to observe that the mother does not prevent it, for, if the udder or teats be sore, she will naturally be averse to suckling, and danger is incurred of losing both animals: and, in case the kernel of the udder is hard, the hardness may be removed by rubbing it three or four times in the day."

*"Or afterbirth: -- in the North it is termed the cleansing.  This excrement ought to be narrowly watched,  after it is passed, as cows will often eat it with great avidity."

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