United States. Bureau of Animal Industry.

Special report on diseases of cattle and on cattle feeding online

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in the right flank, nearly in front of the stifle, when the cow is drinking
cold water. The sensation of cold on the side of the first stomach,
which lies to the left and directly below the womb (Plate i), stimulates
the calf to active movements, which are detected on the sudden jerking
outward of the abdominal wall as if from blows delivered from within.
In a loose pendant abdomen in the latter months of gestation the skin
may often be seen pushed out at a sharp angle, irrespective of the
period of drinking.

Another mode of examination through the flank is by touch. The
palm of the hand is pressed strongly inward, about 8 inches in front of
the stifle and a little below, several times in succession and is then
brought to rest with the pressure maintained. Presently there are
felt distinct and characteristic movements of the fetus, which has been
disturbed and roused to action. Another mode is to press the closed
fist strongly inward in the same situation and hold it so, forming a deep
indentation in the abdominal wall. Presently the knuckles are felt to
be struck by a solid body, which is no other than the fetus that had
been displaced to the left by the push of the hand, and now floats back
in its liquid covering (amniotic fluid see Plate xn) downward and to
the right.

Of all the modes of examination by touch, that done through the
rectum gives the earliest satisfactory indications. The hand and arm
well oiled are introduced, and the excrement having been removed if
necessary, the palm of the hand is turned downward and the floor of
the pelvis carefully examined. There will be felt in the median line
the pear-shaped outline of the bladder, more or less full, rounded or
tense, according to the quantity of urine it contains. Between this and
the hand will be felt a soft, somewhat rounded tubular body, which
divides in front into two smaller tubes or branches, extending to the
right and left into the abdomen. This is the womb, which in its virgin
or unimpregnated condition is of nearly uniform size from before back-
ward, the main part or body being from 1 to 2 inches across, and the
two anterior branches or horns being individually little over an inch
wide. Immediately after conception the body and one of the horns
begin to enlarge, the vacant horn remaining disproportionately small,
and the enlargement will be most marked at one point where a solid
rounded mass indicates the presence of the growing embryo. In case
of twins both horns are enlarged. At a more advanced stage, when
the embryo begins to assume the form of the future animal, the rounded


form gives place to a more or less irregular nodular mass, while later
still the head, limbs, and body of the fetus may be distinctly made out.
The chief source of fallacy is found in the very pendant abdomen of
certain cows, into which in advanced gestation the fetus has dropped
so low that it can not be felt by the hand in the rectum. The absence
of the distinct outline of the vacant womb, however, and the clear indi-
cations obtained on external examination through the right flank will
serve to prevent any mistake. The fetus may still be felt through the
rectum if the abdomen is raised by a sheet passed from side to side
beneath it.

Still another sign is the beating of the fetal heart, which may be
heard in the latter half of pregnancy when the ear is pressed on the
think in front of the right stifle, or from that downward to the udder.
The beats, which are best heard in the absence of rumbling, are about
120 per minute, and easily distinguished from any bowel sounds by
their perfect regularity.


From extended statistics it is found that the average duration of
pregnancy in the cow is 285 days. A calf born at the two hundred and
fortieth day may live, and a case is reported by Dietrichs of a calf born
on the three hundred and thirty-fifth day, and another by the American
Journal of Medical Science as born on the three hundred and thirty-
sixth day. It is the general observation that in the majority of pro-
longed pregnancies the offspring is male. Lord Spencer found a pre-
ponderance of males between the two hundred and ninetieth and the
three hundredth days, but strangely enough all born after the three
hundredth day under his observation were females. It might be
reasonably inferred that while the prevailing tendency is to carry the
males overtime, yet that the smaller and comparatively much less devel-
oped female sometimes fails to stimulate the womb to contraction until
very far beyond the regular date.


Among domestic animals considerations of hygiene must be made
subservient to profit, and therefore the first consideration is not to
secure the most robust health, but such a measure of vigor and stamina
as is compatible with the most profitable utilization of the animal. The
breeding cow must earry a calf every year, and this notwithstanding
that she is at the same time suckling another large growing calf. The
dairy cow must breed every year, and at the same time must furnish
a generous flow of milk for from nine to eleven months yearly. If her
health is lowered thereby, or her life shortened, the question of profit
must still hold sway and she must yield her place to another when dis-
qualified. There are exceptions, of course, but this rule generally


There arc certain points, however, in which the interests of hygiene
may be considered. The pregnant cow should have exercise, and as
regards both exercise and food, nothing is better than a run on a smooth
pasture. She should be withheld from all violent excitement, hunting
with dogs, riding or being ridden by cows in heat, driving in herd
rapidly through narrow gateways, causing to jump ditches or fences,
subjecting to blows with the horns of pugnacious cattle, driving on icy
or otherwise slippery ground, carrying in railroad cars, kicking by
vicious attendants, and fastening or throwing down for operations. The
diet should be good, not of a kind to fatten, but with a generous amount
of nitrogenous constituents which will favor at once the yield of milk
and the nourishment of the fetus. Aliments rich in lime and phos-
phates, like wheat bran, middlings, etc., can be used to advantage, as
there is a constant drain of earthy salts for the building of the body of
the calf, and thereby the danger of undue concentration of the urine
is lessened.

Hard, innutritions, and indigestible aliments, musty grain or hay, par-'
tially ripened rye-grass, millet, Hungarian grass, vetches, peas, or maize
are objectionable, as they are liable to cause indigestion or even paralysis ;
and corn or hay affected by smut or ergot, or that has been spoiled by
wet, overripened, and rendered fibrous and innutritions, are equally
objectionable. The food should be in the main laxative, as costiveness
and straining are liable to cause abortion. Roots and green food that
have been frosted are objectionable, as being liable to cause indigestion,
though in their fresh condition most wholesome and desirable. Ice-
cold water should be avoided, as calculated to check the flow of milk,
to derange digestion, and to cause abortion. A good temperature for the
drink of the dairy cow is 55 F.

In the case of plethoric and heavy milking cows of mature age and
in the prime of life, the hitherto liberal diet must be changed at the
last week for the scantiest possible fare, and the bowels must be kept
open by laxatives, if need be, if the owner would avoid milk fever.
The pregnant cow should be kept away from the sight and odor of dead
carcasses, from the smell of decomposing animal matter, and from stag-
nant and corrupting water. Her stall should not incline downward
from shoulder to croup, lest the pressure of the abdominal organs
should produce protrusion or abortion. She should be kept aloof
from all causes of acute diseases, and all existing diseases should be
remedied speedily and with as little excitement of the abdominal
organs as possible. Strong purgatives and diuretics are to be especially
avoided, unless it be in the very last days of gestation in very plethoric

Finally, in the case of pure breeds, close association with animals of
other breeds or crosses, or with animals of other colors, forms, or with
defects, is to be carefully guarded against. The effects shown in the
progeny may be exceptional, yet they are none the less sources of pre-
ventible loss.



This is common during pregnancy, from chronic relaxation of the
vaginal walls and from lying in stalls that are lower behind than in
front. The protrusion is of a rounded form and smooth, and if it
embraces both sides of the canal it is double with a passage between.
It may sometimes be remedied by raising the hind part of the stall
hi.u'her than the front part. This failing, a truss may be applied as for
eversion of the womb, and worn until the period of calving approaches.
(Plates xxii. xxni.)


This occurs usually in advanced pregnancy, from a gradual relaxa-
tion and distension of the lower wall of the abdomen, in the region of
the udder, so that the latter is displaced downward, and in the sac
above and in front of it may be felt the form and movements of the
. In other cases the womb escapes through a great laceration of
the abdominal muscles to one side of the udder, and the hernial mass
extends down to one side of that organ. However unsightly, this
often allows the animal to complete its pregnancy naturally, and a
broad supporting bandage placed around the abdomen is about all
that can be recommended. After calving it is best to fatten the cow.


The compression by the \vonib and fetus of the nerves passing
through the pelvis sometimes causes cramp and inability to move the
limb, but it disappears under friction and motion and is never seen
after calving.


In the latter months of pregnancy the hind legs may swell beneath
the hocks, or a soft swelling which pits on pressure with the linger
appears from the vulva down between the thighs to the udder and in
front. It is mainly due to the pressure of the enlarged womb on the
blood-vessels, is not dangerous, and disappears after calving.


The unimpregnated womb may be filled with a dropsical fluid, but
the pregnant womb is more liable to become overdistended by an excess
of fluid in the inner water-bag in whieh the fetus floats. (Plate xn.)
From an unhealthy state of this membrane or of the blood of the fetus
(watery blood) this liquid may go on accumulating until the cow seems
almost as broad as she is long. If the trouble has not originated in the
ill health of the cow, the result isstilltodrawoii her system, overtax her
strength, and derange her digestion so that the result may prove fatal


to both mother and offspring. On the other hand, I have known
extreme cases come to the natural term without help, and produce a
living calf, after which the dam did well. The natural resort is to draw
off a portion of the fluid through a hollow needle passed through the
neck of the womb or through its tense wall adjacent. This may be
repeated several times, as demanded to relieve the cow from the injuri-
ous distension.


In ill-fed, weak, unthrifty cows palsy of the hind limbs and tail may
appear in the last weeks of pregnancy. The anus and rectum may
participate in the palsy so far as to prevent defecation, and the rectum
is more or less completely impacted. Exposure to wet and cold are
often accessory causes, though the low condition, general weakness,
and the pressure on the nerves going to the hind limbs are not to be
forgotten. Something may be done for these cases by a warm dry bed,
an abundant diet fed warm, frictions with straw wisps or with a liniment
of equal parts of oil of turpentine and sweet oil on the loins, croup, and
limbs, by the daily use of ginger and gentian, by the cautious adminis-
tration of strychnia (2 grains twice daily), and by sending a current of
electricity daily from the loins through the various groups of muscles
in the hind limbs. The case becomes increasingly hopeful after calving,
though some days may still elapse before the animal can support herself
upon her limbs.



These curious cases are rare and are usually divided into three types :
(1) That in which the fetus is formed in or on the ovary (ovarian gesta-
tion); (2) that in which it is lodged in the fallopian tube or canal
between the ovary and womb (tubaLgestation); and (3) that in which
it is lodged in the abdominal cavity and attached to one or more of its
contents from which it draws its nourishment (abdominal gestation).
Undoubted cases of the first and last varieties are recorded as occurring
in the cow. The explanation of such cases is to be found in the fact
that the actively moving sperm cells (spermatozoa) thrown into the
womb have made their way through the fallopian tubes to the ovary.
If they met and impregnated an ovum in the tube, and if the conse-
quent growth of that ovum prevented its descent and caused its impris-
onment within the tube, it developed there, getting attached to and
drawing nourishment from the mucous walls. Such product has its
development arrested by compression by the undilatable tube, or burst-
ing through the walls of the tube it escapes into the abdomen and
perishes. If, on the contrary, the spermatozoa only meet and impregnate
the ovum on or in the ovary, the development may take place in the
substance of the ovary from which the fetus draws its nourishment,


or the impregnated ovum escaping between the ovary and the open
end of the tube falls into the abdominal cavity, and becomes adherent
to, and draws nourishment from, some of the abdominal organs (womb,
bowel, liver, stomach, etc.).

The symptoms are those of pregnancy, which may be suddenly com-
plicated by inflammation (peritonitis), owing to rupture of the sac con-
taining the fetus; or at full term signs of calving appear but no prog-
ress is made, an examination with the oiled hand in the vagina or
rectum finds the womb empty and its mouth closed. Further examina-
tion will disclose the fetal sac attached in some part of the abdominal
cavity, and containing'the more or less perfectly developed body of a
calf. In the most hopeful cases the fetus perishes at an early stage of
gestation, becomes inclosed in a fibrous sac, and is slowly absorbed, its
soft parts becoming liquefied and removed and the bones remaining
encysted. In some cases the bones have finally sloughed into the rec-
tum or through an artificial opening in the side of the belly.

Little can be done in such cases except to quiet pain and excitement
by anodynes (opium, chloral, etc.) and leave the rest to nature. A
fistula discharging bones may be dilated and the bones extracted,
the sac being then washed out with a solution of 10 grains bichloride
of mercury in a quart of water. In certain cases with a live calf
a skillful operator might be justified in cutting into the abdomen and
extracting the calf with its membranes, using the lotion just named as
an antiseptic.


Even when the fetus has developed within the womb it may fail to
be delivered at the proper time; labor pains have quickly subsided and
the cow resumed her usual health. In such cases the ealf dies, and its
soft parts are gradually liquefied and absorbed, while its bones remain
for years in the womb inclosed in the remains of the fetal membranes.
These may be expelled at any time through the natural channels, or
they may remain indefinitely in the womb, not interfering with the gen-
eral health, but preventing conception.

If the true condition of things is recognized at the time of the sub-
sidence of the labor pains, the mouth of the womb may be dilated by
the fingers, by the insertion of sponge tents, or by a mechanical dilator
(Plate xx, Fig. <>) the fetal membranes may be ruptured and the calf
extracted. After the removal of the calf and its membranes the dan
ger of putrid ]x>isoning may be obviated by injecting the antiseptic
solution advised in the last paragraph.


Technically, abortion is the term used for the expulsion of the off-
spring before it can live out of the womb. Its expulsion after it is
capable of an independent existence is premature parturition. In the


cow this may be after seven and one-half months of pregnancy. Earl
Spencer failed to raise any calf born before the two hundred and forty-
second day. Dairymen use the term abortion for the expulsion of the
product of conception at any time before the completion of the full
period of a normal pregnancy, and in this sense it will be employed in
this article.

Abortion in cows is either contagious or noncontagious. It does not
follow that the contagiuin is the sole cause in every case in which it is
pi vsent. We know that the organized germs of contagion vary much
in potency at different times, and that the animal system also varies
in susceptibility to their attack. The germ may therefore be present
in a herd without any manifest injury, its disease-producing power
having for the time abated considerably, or the whole herd being in a
condition of comparative insusceptibility. At other times the same
germ may have become so virulent that almost all pregnant cows suc-
cumb to its force, or the herd may have been subjected to other causes
of abortion which, though of themselves powerless to actually cause
abortion, may yet so predispose the animals that even the weaker germ
will operate with destructive effect. In dealing with this disease,
therefore, it is the part of wisdom not to rest satisfied with the discov-
ery and removal of one specific cause, but rather to exert oneself to find
every existent cause and to secure a remedy by correcting all the harin-
ful conditions.


As abortion most frequently occurs at those three weeks intervals at
which the cow would have been in heat if noupreguant, we may assume
a predisposition at such times due to a periodicity in the nervous sys-
tem and functions. Poor condition, weakness, and a too watery state
of the blood is often a predisposing cause. This in its turn may result
from poor or insufficient food, from the excessive drain upon the udder
while bearing the calf, from the use of food deficient in certain essen-
tial elements, like the nitrogenous constituents or albuminoids, from
chronic wasting diseases, from round or tape worms in the bowels, from
flat worms (flukes, trematodes) in the liver, from worms in the liver,
from worms in the lungs, from dark, damp, unhealthy buildings, etc.
In some such cases the nourishment is so deficient that the fetus dies
in the womb and is expelled in consequence. Excessive loss of blood,
attended as it usually is by shock, becomes a direct cause of abortion.

Acute inflammations of important organs are notorious causes of abor-
tion, and in most contagious fevers (lung plague, rinderpest, foot and
mouth disease) it is a common result. Affections of the chest which
prevent due aeration of the blood induce contractions of the womb, as
shown experimentally by Brown-Sequard. Pregnant women suffocated
in smoke aborted in many cases.*

* Retcml.


Chronic diseases of the abdominal organs are fertile sources of abor-
tion, especially those that cause bloating (tympany of the first stomach)
or diarrhea, or the diseases of the ovaries, kidneys, or bladder. The
presence of gravel or stone in the kidneys, bladder, or urinary canals,
is an especial predisposing or even an exciting cause, in magnesian
limestone districts and in winter. The presence of tubercles in the
ovaries, the broad ligaments of the womb, and even on the outer sur-
face of the womb itself, must be added as efficient causes.

Fatty degeneration of the heart, a common disease in old cows of
improved beef breeds, lessens the circulation in the placenta (and fetus)
and, arresting nutrition, may cause abortion.

Indigestions of all kinds are especially dangerous, as they are usually
associated with overdistension of the first stomach (paunch) with gas.
As this stomach lies directly beneath and to the left side of the womb,
any disorder, and above all an excessive distension of that organ, presses
on or affects the womb audits contents dangerously. It further causes
contractions of the womb by preventing aeration of the blood. Eeuce
all that tends to indigestion is to be carefully guarded against. Priva-
tion of water, which hinders rumination and digestion; ice-cold water,
which rouses the womb to contraction and the calf to vigorous move-
ment; green, succulent grass, to which the cow has been unaccustomed;
clover which has just been wet with a slight shower; all green food, roots,
potatoes, apples, pumpkins that are frozen or have been, or that are
simply covered with hoar frost; food that has been grown in wet seasons
or that has been badly harvested; growing corn, oats, etc., if the ani-
mal is unused to them; a too dry food or a too stimulating food (wheat
bran, pease, maize, and cotton-seed) fed too lavishly may, any one of
them, induce abortion. The dry and stimulating foods last named bring
on constipation with straining, and also elevated temperature of the
body, which, in itself, endangers the life of the fetus.

Putrid, stagnant water is hurtful both to digestion and the fetus,
and alM>rtions in cows have been repeatedly traced to this source and
have ceased when pure water was supplied. Ergoted grasses have long
been known as a cause of widespread abortions in rows. The ergot is
familiar as the dark purple or black, hard, spur like growths which pro-
trude from the, seeds of the grasses at the period of tlieirripening. (Plate
V.) It is especially common in damp, cloudy seasons and localities, on
meadows shaded by trees and protected against the free sweep of the
winds. The same is to a large extent true of smut. Hence, wet years
have been often remarkable for the great prevalence of abortions.
Abortions have greatly increased in New Zealand among cows since
the introduction of rye grass, which is specially subject to ergot.
As abortion is more prevalent in old dairying districts the ergot may
not be the sole cause in this instance.

The smut of maize, wheat, bailey, and oats is fostered by similar
conditions and is often equally injurious. It should be added that the


ergots and smuts of certain years are far more injurious than those of
others. This may be attributed to the fact that they have grown under
different conditions, and therefore have developed somewhat different
properties, a habit of fungi which has been often observed; or that in
certain seasons the cows have been more powerfully predisposed by
other operative causes of abortion.

Both ergot and sinut vary in potency according to the stage of growth.
Dr. Kluge found that the ergot gathered before the grain had fully
ripened was much more powerful than that from the fully ripened
grain. McGugen found the ergot of wheat more potent than that of
rye. It should be added that both ergot and smut are robbed some-
what of their deleterious properties if fed with an abundance of water,
so that it may prove harmless if fed with roots, ensilage, etc., whereas
it will prove hurtful when fed in the same amount with dry hay. It is
also more liable to injure if fed for a long time in succession in winter,
though it may be in smaller quantity.

Eust is also charged with causing abortions.* That other cryptograms
found in musty fodder are productive of abortion has been well estab-
lished. In Germany and France the wet years of 1851, 1852, and 1853
were notorious for the prevalence of abortions.* Fodders harvested in
such seasons are always more or less musty, and musty hay and grain
have been long recognized as a prolific cause of digestive, urinary, and
cerebral disorders. Impactions and bloatings of the stomachs, exces-
sive secretion of urine (diuresis) and red-water are common results of
such musty fodder, and we have already seen that such disorders of

Online LibraryUnited States. Bureau of Animal IndustrySpecial report on diseases of cattle and on cattle feeding → online text (page 21 of 56)