Introductory Hints

With the cattle industry occupying the important position which it now does in the wealth and resources of the country it would be mere folly to place this work in the hands of the farmer without saying something upon this subject; but, as a lengthy treatise upon the subject would only tend to confound and mystify the average reader, the remarks given here will be confined to the most common diseases of cattle, such as lie within the power of the farmer to treat, together with a few cautionary hints upon some contagious diseases which have an important bearing upon the health of the human family.

Action of Medicines in Cattle

Owing to the sluggish nature of cattle some drugs do not have the same effect upon them that they do upon horses. Aloes, even in large doses, have little or no effect while Epsom salts are an effective purge. Oil is also excellent as a mild purge or laxative; in the absence of oil, lard may be used instead. None of the preparations of mercury should be used by the novice as their action is sometimes violent and injurious.

All medicines are best given in liquid form and should be of considerable bulk, owing to the great capacity of the digestive apparatus. The dose also is, as a rule, double the size of that given to the horse and, in some medicines, even larger.

Signs of Disease in Cattle

In cattle, as well as in horses, it is necessary that the at tendant should know the signs of health before he can learn to distinguish the symptoms of disease.

A staring coat and dry, harsh skin; a dull, sunken eye; a cough; a poor or a capricious appetite; a dry muzzle and suspended rumination are all indications of interference with the functions of some part of the animal organism, while the opposite of these conditions affords good grounds for considering the animal in good health.

Pulse, Temperature and Respiration

As each expansion and contraction of the heart as it pumps the blood throughout the system causes a beat or pulsation which can be perceptably felt wherever an artery passes near the surface an idea of the circulation can be obtained by "taking the pulse." The places where the pulse may be taken are at the angle of the lower jaw as in the horse, about the middle of the first rib, or on the under side of the root of the tail; or in fact it may be taken at any point where an artery nears the surface, especially if it passes over a bone. The number of pulse beats per minute in cattle is from 45 to 55 and should be regular, full, round and soft.

The temperature in cattle is also somewhat higher than in horses, being from about 100 degrees to 101 degrees Fah., and anything above this may be looked upon as indicative of some functional derangement. The respirations, in health, are from 10 to 15 per minute which may easily be seen from the heaving of the sides of the chest. But in examining for disease it should be remembered that surrounding circumstances exert a powerful influence upon the condition of an animal. Thus anything which tends to worry or excite, and especially being chased by dogs, will increase the frequency of both the pulse and respirations and will sometimes even cause an elevation of temperature.

Hence the necessity of always having a sick animal in some quiet place separate from the others and of approaching it as gently as possible when an examination is to be made.

The proportioning of doses according to age can be learned from the chapter on Administering Medicines" in the first part of this book. Also where a remedy is recommended without giving its manner of preparation the formula will be found complete under "Medicines and how to Prepare Them."

Prompt Action Necessary

Owing to the sluggish nature of cattle and their disposition to "give up" in disease, early and prompt treatment is very essential; and to nurse a sick cow properly often requires more patience and perseverance than to nurse a sick horse.