This section is from the book "The Farmers Ready Reference Or Hand Book Of Diseases Of Horses And Cattle", by S. C. Orr. . Also available from Amazon: The Farmer's Ready Reference;.
This is a peculiar affection which I have frequently met with in Kansas, and to which I apply the above name for want of a better one. I have never seen the disease in other than cows while giving milk. Some have called it ergotism, but with this theory I cannot agree. I have not seen a description of anything just like it in any of the works on veterinary science. So far, I have only met with it in the spring and early summer months; and from this I have attributed it to some impropriety in the winter and spring diet, or surroundings, prior to turning out to grass. It may be due to feeding on mouldy hay or grain. At any rate, the stomach seems to be the seat of the disease, and the brain, acting in sympathy with it, becomes delirious.
Symptoms. - The symptoms vary somewhat in different individuals and in different stages of the disease. The first symptom generally noticed is a refusal of food, or feeding scantily; there will be decrease in the quantity of milk; the eyes will have a dull stare, and sometimes the animal appears dazed. I saw one cow that constantly licked her fore legs. Another gnawed the board fence - like a horse often does. As the disease progresses, the patient becomes more delirious and pushes with its head against a wall, fence or any other object with which it may come in contact.
Treatment. - Give a dose of Epsom salt sufficient to open the bowels (a pound or more to an ordinary cow) dissolved in half a gallon of warm water. Half an ounce of bromide of potassium should be given with the salt and the same dose repeated every four or six hours until the delirium subsides. In severe cases, cloths wet in cold water should be kept on the head. If the first dose of Epsom salt does not open the bowels in twenty-four hours a second dose should be given. For after-treatment an ounce of hyposulphite of soda may be given in drinking water two or three times a day.
Sometimes cattle are seen chewing old bones, licking a stone wall, eating earthy matter, etc. This generally indicates some gastric derangement and will nearly always yield to the treatment prescribed for indigestion. Some cows get into the habit of eating horse dung, probably due to starvation at first, unless it originates from the filthy habit which some dairymen have of feeding their cows upon the cleanings from livery stables, simply because they can get it for the trouble of hauling.