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The shepherd's manual. A practical treatise on the sheep online

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Fig. 73. STBUCTUBB OF THE KIDNEY. eve nly and in every

direction. A strong muscle encircles the opening, from which the
urine is discharged, and which is called the neck of the bladder. The
contraction of this muscle closes the neck and retains the contents,
its relaxation opens the orifice and Callows the contents to be ex-
pelled. From the neck of the bladder proceeds the urethra, by
which the urine is discharged. In the ewe the urethra is very
short, in the ram it is much longer, and passes down from the
anus along the abdomen to the extremity of the penis. The func-
tions of the bladder are very important. It serves as a reservoir
for the urinal fluid which is constantly secreted by the kidneys
and retains it until a considerable quantity has been accumulated,
and thus spares the animal from otherwise continually dribbling
away the urine as it is secreted.

The Eeproductive Organs. These are entirely different in the


male and female. The female organs are more abundantly devel-
oped than those of the male, and have more intricate functions to
fulfill. They consist of two secreting organs called ovaries, which
are charged with the elaboration of the ovum or egg ; the uterine
tube through which the ovum passes on leaving the ovary;
the uterus or womb in which it rests after its impregnation,
and in which it remains until it is fully developed ; and the
vagina or canal through which the foetus or young animal when
perfected is discharged. In addition there are two mammas or
milk-producing glands enclosed in the skin, and attached to the
lower part of the abdomen and inner parts of the thighs, each of
which has a set of secreting glands and milk ducts flowing into
a tube which has its orifice in the teat. These milk glands are
called the udder. The ovum is a cell about Viooth of an inch in di-
ameter, which is contained in another cell or ovisac, of which the
ovaries contain a certain number. At stated periods called the
oestrum or condition of " heat," the ovaries become excited and
distended, and discharge one (or more) of these ovisacs, which, par-
taking of the condition of the ovaries, becomes distended and bursts,
releasing the ovum, which, when it is brought into contact with
the impregnating fluid of the male in the uterine tube, undergoes
a change, enters into the uterus, and hi course of time becomes a
living animal. When the female is not brought into connection
with the male at the season of heat, the ovum undergoes no change,
but passes on to the uterus, where it is absorbed. The impregna-
ted ovum, when it reaches the uterus, becomes grafted upon its
lining membrane and draws directly from the mother's blood the
materials for its development.

In the male the reproductive organs consist of two glands, which
in the ram are suspended in a sac between the thighs. This sac is
called the scrotum. The glands, called the testicles or testes, are
each enclosed in four envelopes, being separate and distinct from
each other. One of these envelopes is a portion of the peritoneum
or lining of the abdomen, which descends through an opening in
the abdomen. This opening remains afterwards, and it is thus
that in castrating the ram, the inflammation which often takes
place, spreads into the abdomen and destroys the animal. The
glands are oval in shape, and consist of a grayish pulp. They are
attached to the spermatic cord and artery, and their function is to
secrete the spermatic or impregnating fluid, which is alkaline, and
contains minute filaments not larger than YBOOO to Vsoooth of an inch
in length. These filaments possess the power of independent
movement for some days after their expulsion from the organs of


the male. A canal or duct called the 'Das deferens, leads from the
testes to the outward and exposed male organ. In the ram this
organ has at its extremity a small spiral appendage called the
vermiform, (or worm-like), appendage. This has a very narrow
orifice, and is often on this account the seat of obstructions which
are difficult to remove.

The testicles of the ram are very large in proportion to its size,
and the whole reproductive powers are highly vigorous, enabling
him, when well nourished, to serve effectively a hundred ewes in
a season.


In judging of the symptoms of disease in the sheep, it is neces-
sary to take into account the nature, constitution, and habits of
this animal. The diseases of the sheep are numerous and more
generally fatal than those of other domestic animals. The diges-
tive organs of the sheep are largely and powerfully developed, and
its capacity for the production of blood is very great. Yet its
needs for this large supply of blood is not to support its nervous
system, which is feebly developed, nor its muscular exertion, of
which it is incapable to any great extent, nor its circulation, which
is onty of inferior amount, but the surplus must necessarily go to
the production of flesh, fat, and wool. In the sheep, therefore,
the production of flesh, fat, and wool, is the chief of its functions,
and the greater part of its vitality is expended in this way, leaving
but a small amount to sustain the comparatively weak vascular
system. The sheep is unable to sustain severe muscular labor ; and
slow movement, except for very limited periods, is all that it is
capable of. From the small brain development of the sheep, its
weak nervous and circulating system, it is to a great extent free from
diseases of an inflammatory character. From the large exercise
of its digestive powers, it is to be expected that diseases of the di-
gestive organs should be frequent and serious, and this we find
to be the case. From the same causes that render it compara-
tively free from diseases of an irritating character, it with more
than usual readiness succumbs to those in which debility and the
exhaustive effects of parasites are the chief features. Indeed it is
to the attacks of parasites, both external and internal, that sheep
owe their most troublesome and fatal disorders. Infectious or
contagious diseases have greater scope for action amongst sheep
than amongst other domestic animals, by reason of their gathering
together in large flocks, and thus being more exposed to unwhole-


some influences than those animals which are usually kept singly,
or which when kept in large numbers, naturally break up into
small separate herds. The structure of the foot, and the manner
of the growth of the crust and sole are such as to subject it to dis-
ease in that organ from which other animals are free. In the
management of a flock of sheep, it is necessary to bear in mind the
peculiarities and habits, so that the watchful care of the shepherd
may be given as far as possible to exercise precautions which may
prevent disease. Fortunately our climate is so well adapted to
these peculiarities and habits, that our flocks suffer from far fewer
diseases than those of other less favorable climates, and at present
many diseases prevalent in other countries are unknown to us ex-
cept by report. Precautions to be effective must be intelligently
exercised, and it is only by thoroughly understanding his flock
that the shepherd can know what to avoid and what to do. The
symptoms which indicate approaching disease should be instantly
recognized, or the threatened danger cannot be averted. Then the
timely remedy may be employed, which is rarely ineffective, while
that which comes later is rarely serviceable or effective. The
remedies to be administered must be consistent with the peculiar-
ities of the sheep. Possessing but a weak vascular and nervous
system, and a small supply of circulating blood, bleeding is rarely
called for, and can be employed only with danger of doing harm
in place of good. For the same reason tonic and stimulating med-
icines are more frequently needed, and may be given in larger
doses. Purgatives, especially saline ones, for the same reason,
always demand an accompanying: stimulant.

Purgatives are frequently called for, as the digestive organs
so abundantly developed and largely exercised, are readily dis-
eased or disordered, and disturbance of the system rarely occurs
without sympathetically or otherwise involving those organs.
The veterinarian used to study the diseases of the horse, and to
apply his reasoning to the peculiarities of that animal, is too apt to
lose sight of the vast surface of the stomachs of the sheep, the in-
sensibility of much of this surface, and the fact that medicine ad-
ministered with the food or in solid form, will most probably fall
into the rumen, where it will be ineffective. So too the shepherd,
who consults veterinary works, will be misled to a great extent,
and be induced to believe the too common idea that it is folly to
physic a sheep, and the best treatment is to cut its throat at once.
In treating sheep, purgatives are useful to reduce fever, to lower
inflammation, and to restore tone to the stomach and liver. They
should always be given in a liquid form. Of all the purgatives,


Epsom Salts and Linseed Oil (always raw) are the most suitable
and effective. The action of stimulants given along with a purga-
tive is always beneficial.

Stimulants, of which Ginger, Gentian, Aniseed, and Pepper-
mint-oil are the most usual and useful, restore the tone of the
stomachs and excite them to action, thus aiding hi the operation of
the purgative, which might otherwise still further enfeeble them.

Bleeding, when it is necessary in the outset of inflammatory dis-
orders or local excitements, should be performed by operating on
the veins under the eye (see fig. 76) or the ear ; the inside of the
fore arm is a convenient place ; when a large quantity is to be
taken, the jugular vein of the neck may be opened by first cut-
ting off some of the wool, pressing the vein with the finger, and
cutting it lengthwise never crosswise with a sharp lancet. Never
less than two ounces or a wine-glassf ul should be taken, and rarely
more than half a pint.

In referring to the diseases hereinafter treated of, as far as
possible, the causes to which they may generally be attributed,
with the means of prevention, will be given. The remedies men-
tioned will be those to be given to a full-grown animal, for lambs,
one-half or less of the doses should be given, and for very young
lambs, still less should be given.

The most prolific causes of disease are over-feeding, under-feed-
ing, irregularity of feeding, want of water, drinking impure water,
impure air, damp, and over-driving. If these were avoided there
would be but little complaint of the frequent troubles, difficulties,
and losses in keeping sheep. While they exist, medicine, at the
best, is but a temporary expedient, effective only during the time
in which extra care is used. When this care is allowed to relapse
the trouble will infallibly recur.



Catarrh is very common during the fall, winter, and spring. It
will be found on close observation to be rarely absent in any flock.
In our diy climate, subject, however, to sudden changes of temper-
ature, catarrh, or cold, is mostly due to exposure to damp hi open
yards, or to too high a temperature in sheds or pens, rather than to
exposure to the weather in open fields. Flocks that are more care-


fully tended and housed than usual, are found to be more subject
to it than others. Of two flocks equally well fed, but one of
which is carefully shut up every night and protected (?) from every
draft of fresh air, and another whose bed is the snow in an open,
airy, dry yard, it will be the first that will be troubled with cough
and discharge from the nose, while the latter will be free from it.
Fresh air, ample ventilation in partly open sheds, dry yards and
clean, dry bedding, and protection from chilling rain-storms in
winter, with whatever protection may be needed immediately after
shearing, should the weather be cold and rainy, will generally be
amply sufficient to prevent any trouble from this complaint. Chas-
ing by dogs and consequent over-heating, and over-driving, are
certain causes, and these should be carefully avoided. The judg-
ment of the shepherd should be exercised in exceptional cases, act-
ing always under the general rule that dry cold is rarely hurtful
to sheep, while they suffer from wet or damp cold, and that moist,
warm, steamy, close atmosphere, especially when confined in sta-
bles, will inevitably produce cold or catarrh, which if not at once
remedied will generally result in serious disorders of the lungs.
This disease consists of inflammation of the lining membrane of
the throat, windpipe, nostrils, and the sinuses of the head. It
produces an increase of the secretion of mucus and consequent ir-
ritation and coughing. When long continued, the cough becomes
dry and deep seated, showing that the lungs are involved.

The treatment consists in removal of the causes, good nursing, ad-
ministering slightly warm mucilaginous drinks, as oat-meal gruel or
linseed tea, along with a gentle stimulant, such as half a teaspoonful
of ground ginger. The antiseptic effect of a small quantity of clean
pine tar rubbed upon the sheep's nose, some of which the animal
will lick off and swallow, will be beneficial. If there is fever, and
the nose is dry and hot, the following may be given, viz :

Epsom Salts !/ a ounce.

Saltpeter 1 dram.

Ground Ginger 1 dram.

This should be mixed with molasses and placed on the back part of
the tongue with a long, narrow bladed wooden knife or spatula.
The animal's head should be held up until the whole is swallowed
in repeated small quantities. Or the dose may be mixed with
thin gruel and administered by means of a small horn.

Bronchitis is simply a deep-seated catarrh which affects the bron-
chial tubes or air passages in the body of the lungs. It is danger-
ous, inasmuch as the inflammation readily spreads and affects the
lungs. In bronchitis the cough is more severe than in catarrh,


the pulse and the respiration are both quickened, there is some
fever, and the appetite fails. The treatment is the same as that
prescribed for catarrh, but to be continued longer, changing the
dose to the following, to be administered for three or four days,
reducing the quantity of saltpeter gradually one-half.

Linseed-oil 1 ounce.

Saltpeter 1 dram.

Powdered Gentian 1 dram.

Bleeding must not be attempted in this disease. Quietness is in-
dispensable, and a clean, airy, but solitary, pen should be provided,
and a plenty of pure, fresh water supplied.

Pneumonia or Inflammation of the Lungs. This is a more fre-
quent disease than is generally suspected. Many sheep exhibit
the peculiar symptoms of pneumonia, and are too far gone for re-
covery before their too careless owners are aware that they are
affected. High-bred imported sheep, the Leicester more particu-
larly, are very liable to this disease, which is generally fatal to
them. It consists of inflammation of the substance of the lungs,
and frequently follows neglected attacks of bronchitis, the inflam-
mation easily and quickly passing from the lining membrane of
the air-passages to the cellular tissue of the lungs. Washing in
streams of cold spring water, or sudden chills from exposure to cold
showers, quickly succeeding hot weather, or when heated with
driving, or after shearing, or too close penning in warm stables in
cold weather, are the usual causes. It is rarely that this disease
develops fully without previously passing through the earlier
stages, or without some serious mistake in the management of the
sheep ; and it is only by instant attention and proper treatment
that its usually rapid and fatal course can be arrested.

The symptoms are a quick and labored breathing with painful
heaving of the flanks ; a painful cough ; discharge of thick yellow
mucus from the nostrils, high fever, and great thirst ; hard, quick
pulse ; constant grinding of the teeth, together with loss of appe-
tite and rumination. On examination after death, the lungs are
found to be hard and gorged with blood, and if thrown into water
they sink to the bottom. The disease usually terminates in death
in from twenty -four to thirty-six hours.

Treatment is of no avail unless commenced immediately. Bleed-
ing from the jugular vein, until the animal staggers, is the first and
most effective remedy. If found necessary, this should be repeated
in six hours. Two ounces of Epsom salts should be given imme-
diately after the bleeding ; if this does not cause free purging, one
ounce more may be given in three hours. Copious purging is not


to be dreaded in this disease with sheep as with the horse. Injec-
tions of thin oat-meal gruel, strained, should be given every two
hours. After the bowels have been well evacuated, the following
may be given twice a day in oat-meal or linseed gruel :

Powdered Digitalis 1 scruple.

Nitrate of Potash 1 dram.

Tartar emetic 1 scruple.

to be continued several days. As soon as the sheep improves and
begins to move about, a pint of gruel may be given every three
hours with half a dram of powdered Gentian. Warm drinks of
dissolved gum Arabic, or linseed-meal tea, hi which a little honey
is dissolved, will be useful. The nostrils should be freed from
accumulated mucus by washing or sponging with a mixture of
equal parts vinegar and water, or of one ounce of acetic acid with
a quart of water. Some of the acidulated water should be squeezed
into the nostrils to clear them as far as possible.

One dram doses of tartar emetic alone have been given with
benefit in this disease. As it is in nearly every case avoidable by
proper care and precaution, and is rarely cured when once well
seated, it will be by far the best policy to prevent its occurrence.

Pleurisy, or inflammation of the membrane covering the lungs
and the lining of the cavity of the chest, is produced by the same
causes as pneumonia. It frequently accompanies this latter dis-
ease. It most frequently follows the careless washing of sheep or
their exposure to cold winds with wet fleeces, or from a severe
chill after having been sheared. After an attack of this disease,
and a seeming recovery, an adhesion of the lungs to the sides of
the chest often takes place which prevents the sheep from thriving
and keeps them in poor condition, from which they cannot be
recovered. Wide-spread causes, chiefly those arising from the un-
favorable condition of the weather, sometimes affect the flocks of
extensive districts, and lead to the supposition that the disease is
epizootic or contagious. This, however, is not the case.

Prevention consists in watchful care to protect the sheep from
sudden change of the weather at a time when they are more than
usually exposed to its ill effects ; also from a too sudden change
from housing to open pasturing in the spring. All sudden changes
in the management of sheep should be made with caution, a
change, even from poor to rich feed, may produce this or other in-
flammatory diseases, and care must be exercised in this respect.

The symptoms are similar to those of inflammation of the lungs ;
more pain is experienced, and the sheep exhibits more distress,
sometimes moaning in agony. After death, the cavity of the chest



is found filled with fluid ; the surface of the lungs is highly in-
flamed, and covered with livid patches, but their substance is not
affected. Generally no trace of disease is found elsewhere.

The treatment consists in copious bleeding as for pneumonia,
but more blood may be taken with benefit. The following may
be given :

Powdered Digitalis .............................. 1 scruple.

Nitrate of Potash ................................ 1 dram.

Nitrous Ether, (Spirits of Nitre) .................. 3 drams.

to be administered in linseed-meal or oat-meal gruel twice a day
for four or five days. When recovery be-
gins, the following tonic may be substituted :

Sulphate of Iron .................... y a dram.

Infusion of Quassia or Chamomile.^ pint.


Ground Ginger

i/ fl

If the animal is valuable, it may sometimes
be saved after the effusion of serum in the
chest has occurred to a considerable extent,
by tapping the cavity with a trochar and
canula, (fig. 74), and drawing off the fluid.
When this effusion has taken place, it may .
be discovered by tapping the sides of the
chest, when a dull dead sound only is heard ;
also by a gurgling sound during expiration,
which is painful and difficult. The trochar
is inserted cautiously between the eighth and
ninth ribs, and the canula left in the opening
through which the fluid flows. Generous feed-
ing and great care are needed after tapping.


Choking. Sheep are not often troubled
with obstructions of the gullet, except when
fed upon cut or sliced turnips, or permitted
to consume the shells of turnips which have
been scooped out by them in the field. When
a sheep is thus choked, the head is held
down, saliva flows from the mouth, breath-
ing is difficult, and the stomach becomes dis-
tended with gas, or air swallowed in the ef-
forts to dislodge the obstruction. When this occurs, the sheep's
head should be raised and held firmly between one man's legs,



while another pours a teaspoonful of linseed oil or melted lard
down the throat and endeavors by gently manipulating the gullet
to work the obstruction downwards. If this is ineffectual, a pro-
bang should be used. This is a flexible thin rod, as the wash rod of
a rifle, or a piece of light rattan or other tough elastic material. A
soft ball of tow, or of strips of linen cloth is securely fastened to the
end of the rod. This is well soaked with sweet oil or lard, and
gently inserted into the gullet until it meets the obstruction, when
it is to be forced downwards without violence, a few gentle, but
smart taps on the upper end with a light stick being generally
more effective than continuous pressure. If the lining of the gul-
let is injured in the operation, and the sheep refuses to eat, gruel
or other liquid food should be given until the soreness disappears.
If the obstruction cannot be removed in this way, the sheep had
better be slaughtered. If it is a valuable animal, an effort which
is frequently successful, may be made to save it by cutting open
the skin and the gullet upon the obstruction, and removing it. The
opening in the gullet is then closed by a stitch made with a sur-
geon's curved needle, and the wound in the skin closed separately
in the same manner. The sheep should be securely held during
this operation. Soft food should be given until the wound is
healed. (See Treatment of Wounds).

Costiveness Stretches. This complaint is more frequently a
symptom of disease than a disease itself. Yet it frequently occurs
when changing the flock from pasture to dry food. The dung
then becomes dry, hard, and scanty, and is discharged irregularly.
The termination of the bowel is red and inflamed, and when void-
ing dung, the sheep grunts or moans as with pain. Care in chang-
ing the food is a preventive, and a few ounces of linseed-cake-meal
daily will obviate the difficulty. Injections of warm soap and
water, or of one ounce of linseed-oil, will relieve the bowels, and
one ounce of linseed-oil given by the mouth will generally bring
about a cure.

When the costiveness is of long continuance, from neglect, the
sheep may be perceived stretching itself, spreading the feet apart,
raising the head, curving the back, and extending the abdomen.
This may also occur from obstruction of the bowels, which, how-
ever, is rare with sheep, but is most frequently caused by costive-
ness. A teaspoonful of Sublimed Sulphur, (Flowers of Sulphur),
mixed with a small quantity of molasses or lard, may be placed on
the tongue to be swallowed, once a day, for a week. A regular
allowance of a mixture of four ounces of Sulphur with one pound


of salt, placed where the sheep can have access to it at will, is a
sure preventive of costiveness.

DiarrTiea or Scours. A looseness of the bowels, without pain,
fever, or other complications, frequently occurs when sheep are
turned to pasture in the spring, or turned on to rich succulent

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Online LibraryHenry StewartThe shepherd's manual. A practical treatise on the sheep → online text (page 17 of 23)