United States. Bureau of Animal Industry.

Special report on diseases of cattle and on cattle feeding online

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lower part. If the hand is introduced into the vagina it is felt to be
hot and tender, and perhaps slightly swollen along its floor. As a
final test, if the lower fluctuating part of the abdomen is punctured


with a hypodermic needle a straw-colored liquid of an urinous odor
flows out. The condition has been considered as past hope. The only
chance for recovery would be in opening the abdomen, evacuating the
liquid, and stitching up the rent in the bladder, but at such a season
and with inflammation already started there would be little to hope for.


When the womb has been rendered friable by disease this may occur
in the course of the labor, but much more frequently it occurs from vio-
lence sustained in attempting assistance in difficult parturition. It is
also liable to occur during eversion of the organ through efforts to
replace it.

If it happens while the calf is still in the womb, it will usually bleed
freely and continuously until the fetus has been extracted, so that the
womb can contract on itself and expel its excess of blood. Another
danger is that in case of a large rent the calf may escape into the cav-
ity of the abdomen and parturition become impossible. Still another
danger is that of the introduction of septic germs and the setting up of
a fatal inflammation of the lining membrane of the belly (peritoneum).
Still another is the escape of the small intestine through the rent and
on through the vagina and vulva, so as to protrude externally and
receive perhaps fatal injuries. In case of rupture before calving, that
act should be completed as rapidly and carefully as possible, the fetal
membranes removed and the contraction of the womb sought by dash-
ing cold water on the loins, the right flank, or the vulva. If the calf
has escaped into the abdomen and can not be brought through the
natural channels it may be permissible to fix the animal and extract
it through the side, as in the Ca?sarian section. If the laceration has
happened during eversion of the womb it is usually less redoubtable,
because the womb contracts more readily under the stimulus of the
cold air so recently applied. In case the abdomen has been laid open
it is well to stitch up the rent, but if not it should be left to nature, and
will often heal satisfactorily, the cow even breeding successfully in after


Eupture of the floor of the vagina has been already referred to as
allowing the protrusion of the bladder. Laceration of the roof of this
passage is also met Avith as the result of deviations of the hind limbs
and feet upward when the calf lies on its back. In some such cases the
opening passes clear into the rectum, or the foot may even pass out
through the anus, so that that opening and the vulva are laid open into

Simple superficial lacerations of the vaginal walls are not usually
serious, and heal readily unless septic inflammation sets in, in which
case the cow is likely to perishT They may be treated with soothing


and antiseptic injections, such as carbolic acid, 1 dram; water, 1

The more serious injuries depend on the complications. Rupture of
the anterior part of the canal, close to the mouth of the womb, may
lead to the introduction of infecting germs into the cavity of the abdo-
men, or protrusion of the bowel through the rent and externally, either
of which is likely to prove fatal. If both these conditions are escaped
the wound may heal spontaneously. Rupture into the bladder may
lead to nothing worse than a constant dribbling of urine from the vulva.
The cow should be fattened if she survives. Rupture into the rectum
will entail a constant escape of feces through the vulva, and of course
the same condition exists when the anus as well has been torn open. I
have successfully sewed up an opening of this kind in the mare, but in
the cow it is probably better to prepare for the butcher.


During calving the vagina may be bruised so as to cause escape of
blood beneath the mucous membrane and its coagulation into large
bulging clots. The vulva may appear swollen, and on separating its
lips the mucous membrane of the vagina is seen to be raised into irreg-
ular rounded swellings of a dark blue or black color, and which pit on
pressure of the finger. If the accumulation of blood is not extensive it
may be reabsorbed, but if abundant it may lead to irritation and dan-
gerous inflammation, and should be incised with a lancet and the clots
cleared out. The wounds may then be sponged twice a day with a
lotion made with 1 dram sulphate of zinc, 1 drain carbolic acid, and 1
quart water.


The cow, of all our domestic animals, is especially subject to this acci-
dent. This may be partly accounted for by the firm connections estab-
lished through the fifty to one hundred cotyledons (Plate xm, Fig. 2)
in which the fetal membranes dovetail with the follicles of the womb.
It is also most liable to occur after abortion, in which preparation has
not been made by fatty degeneration for the severance of these close
connections. In the occurrence of inflammation, causing the formation
of new tissue between the membranes and the womb, we find the occa-
sion of unnaturally firm adhesions which prevent the spontaneous
detachment of the membranes. Again, in low conditions of health and
an imperfect power of contraction we find a potent cause of retention,
the general debility showing particularly in the indisposition of the
womb to contract, after calving, with sufficient energy to expel the
afterbirth. Hence we find the condition common with insufficient or
innutritions food, and in years or localities in which the fodder has
suffered from weather. Ergoted (Plato V), smutty or musty fodder, by
causing abortinn t is a frequent cause of retention. Old cows arc more
24097 1C


subject than young ones, probably because of diminishing vigor. A
temporary retention is sometimes due to a too rapid closure of the neck
of the womb after calving, causing strangulation and imprisonment of
the membranes. Conditions favoring this are the drinking of cold (iced)
water, the eating of cold food (frosted roots), and (through sympathy
between udder and womb) a too prompt sucking by the calf or milking
by the attendant.

The symptoms of retention of the afterbirth are usually only too evi-
dent, as the membranes hang from the vulva and rot away gradually,
causing the most offensive odor throughout the building. When re-
tained within the womb by closure of its mouth, and similarly in
cases in which the protruded part has rotted off, the decomposition
continues 'and the fetid products escaping by the vulva appear in offen-
sively smelling pools on the floor and mat together with hairs near the
root of the tail. The septic materials retained in the womb cause inflam-
mation of its lining membrane, and this, together with the absorption
into the blood of the products of putrefaction, leads to ill health, ema-
ciation, and drying up of the milk.

Treatment will vary according to the conditions. When the cow is in
low condition, or when retention is connected with drinking iced water
or eating frozen food, hot drinks and hot mashes of wheat bran or other
aliment may be all-sufficient. If, along with the above conditions, the
bowels are somewhat confined, an ounce of ground ginger, or half an
ounce of black pepper, given with a quart of sweet oil, or a pound and
a half of Glauber salts, the latter in at least 4 quarts of warm water,
will often prove effectual. A bottle or two of flaxseed tea, made by
prolonged boiling, should also be given at frequent intervals. Other
stimulants, like rue, savin, laurel, and carrninitives like anise, cumin,
and coriander are preferred by some, but with very questionable reason,
the more so that the first three are not without danger. Ergot of rye,
1 ounce, or extract of the same, 1 dram, may be resorted to to induce
contraction of the womb. The mechanical extraction of the membranes
is, however, often vcalled for; of this there are several methods. The
simplest is to hang a weight of 1 or 2 pounds to the hanging por-
tion, and allow this, by its constant dragging and by its jerking effect
when the cow moves, to pull the membranes from their attachments
and to stimulate the womb to expulsive contractions. But in the neg-
lected cases, when the dependent mass is already badly decomposed, it
is liable to tear across under the added weight, leaving a portion of the
offensive material imprisoned in the womb. Again, this uncontrolled
dragging upon a relaxed womb will (in exceptional cases only, it is
trae) cause it to become everted and to protrude in this condition from
the vulva.

A second resort is to seize the dependent part of the afterbirth be-
tween two sticks, and roll it up on these until they lie against the vulva;
then, by careful traction, accompanied by slight jerking movements


from side to side, the womb is stimulated to expulsive contractions and
the afterbirth is wound up more and more on the sticks until, finally,
its last connections with the womb are severed and the remainder is
expelled suddenly en masse. It is quite evident that neglected cases
with putrid membranes are poor subjects for this, method, as the after-
birth is liable to tear across, leaving a mass in the womb. During the
progress of the work any indication of tearing is the signal to stop and
proceed with greater caution, or altogether abandon the attempt in this

The third method (that with the skilled hand) is the most promptly
and certainly successful. For this the operator had best strip and
;i> for a parturition case. Again, the operation should be under-
taken within twenty-four hours after calving, since, later, the mouth of
the womb may be so closed that it becomes difficult to introduce the hand.
The operator should smear his arms with carbolized lard or vaseline to
protect them against infection, and particularly in delayed cases with
putrid membranes. An assistant holds the tail to one side while the
operator seizes the hanging afterbirth with the left hand, while he
introduces the right along the right side of the vagina and womb, let-
ting the membranes slide through his palm until he reaches the first
cotyledon to which they remain adherent. In case no such connection
is within reach, gentle traction is made on the membranes with the left
hand until the deeper parts of the womb are brought within reach, and
the attachments to the cotyledons can be reached. Then the soft pro-
jrrtion of the membrane, which is attached to the firm fungus-shaped
cotyledon on the inner surface of the womb, is seized by the little
finder, and the other fingers and thumb are closed on it so as to tear it
out from its connections. To explain this it is only necessary to say
that the projection from the membrane is covered by soft conical proc-
esses, which are received into cavities of a corresponding size on the
summit of the firm mushroom -shaped cotyledon growing from the inner
surface of the womb. To draw upon the former, therefore, is to extract
its soft vilhms processes from within the follicles or cavities of the other.
(Plate XIII, Fig. 2.) If it is at times difficult to start this extraction it
may be necessary to gt the finger nail inserted between the two, and
once started the finger may bo pushed on, lifting all the villi in turn
out of their cavities. This process of separating the cotyledons must bo
carefully conducted, one after another, until the last has been detached
and the afterbirth comes freely out of the passages. I have never found
any evil result from the removal of the whole mass at one operation,
but Shaack mentions the eversion of the womb as the possible result
of the necessary traction, and in cases in which those in the most dis-
tant part of the horn of the womb can not be easily reached. h advises
to attach a cord to the membranes inside the vulva, letting it hangout
behind, and to cut off the membranes below the cord. Then, after two
or three days' delay, he extracts the remainder, now softened and easily


detached. If carefully conducted, so as not to tear the cotyledons of
the womb, the operation is eminently successful; the cow suffers little,
and the straining roused by the manipulations soon subsides. Keeping
in a quiet, dark place, or driving a short distance at a walking pace,
will serve to quiet these. When the membranes have been withdrawn
the hand, half closed, may be used to draw out of the womb the offensive
liquid that has collected. If the case is a neglected one, and the dis-
charge is very offensive, the womb must be injected as for leucorrhcea.


This may occur independently of inflammation of the womb, and usually
as the result of bruises, lacerations, or other injuries sustained during
calving. It will be shown by swelling of the lips of the vulva, which,
together with their lining membrane, become of a dark red or leaden
hue, and the mucous discharge increases and becomes whitish or pur-
ulent, and it may be fetid. Slight cases recover spontaneously, or
under warm fomentations or mild astringent injections (a teaspoouful
of carbolic acid in a quart of water), but severe cases may go on to the
formation of large sores (ulcers), or considerable portions of the mucous
membrane may die and slough off. Baumeister records two cases of
diphtheritic vaginitis, the second case in a cow four weeks calved, con-
tracted from the first in a newly calved cow. Both proved fatal, with
formation of false membranes as far as the interior of the womb. In
all severe cases the antiseptic injections must be applied most assidu-
ously. The carbolic acid may be increased to one-half ounce to a quart,
or chlorine water, or peroxide of hydrogen solution may be injected at
least three times a day. Hyposulphite of soda, 1 ounce to a quart of
water, is an excellent application, and the same amount may be given
by the mouth.


This is due to a continued or chronic inflammation of the womb, the
vagina, or both. It usually results from injuries sustained in calving,
or from irritation by putrid matters in connection with retained after-
birth, or from the use of some object in the vagina (pessary) to prevent
eversion of the womb. Exposure to cold or other cause of disturbance
of the health may affect an organ so susceptible as this at the time of
parturition so as to cause inflammation.

The main symptom is the glairy white discharge flowing constantly
or intermittently (when the cow lies down), soiling the tail and matting
its hairs and those of the vulva. When the lips of the vulva are drawn
apart the mucous membrane is seen to be red with minute elevations,
or pale and smooth. The health may not suffer at first, but if the dis-
charge continues and is putrid the health fails, the milk shrinks, and
flesh is lost. If the womb is involved the hand introduced into the
vagina may detect the mouth of the womb slightly open and the liquid


collected within its cavity. Examination with the oiled hand in the
rectum may detect the outline of the womb beneath, somewhat enlarged,
and fluctuating under the touch from contained fluid. In some cases
heat is more frequent or intense than natural, but the animal rarely
conceives when served, and if she does is likely to abort.

Treatment with the injections advised for vagiuitis is successful in
mild or recent cases. In obstinate ones stronger solutions may be used
after the womb has been washed out by a stream of tepid water until
it comes clear. A rubber tube is inserted into the womb, a funnel
placed in its raised end, and the water and afterward the solution
poured slowly through this. If the neck of the womb is so close that
the liquid can not escape, a second tube may be inserted to drain it off.
As injections maybe used chloride of zinc, one-half dram to the quart of
water, or sulphate of iron 1 dram to the quart. Three drams of sul-
phate of iron and one-half ounce ground ginger may also be given in
the food daily.


Inflammation of the womb may be slight or violent, simple or asso-
ciated with putrefaction of its liquid contents and general poisoning, or
it may extend so that the inflammation affects the lining membrane of
the whole abdominal cavity. In the last two cases the malady is a very
grave one. The causes are largely the same as those causing inflam-
mation of the vagina. Greater importance must, however, be attached
to exposure to cold and wet, and septic infection.

The symptoms appear two or three days after calving, when the cow
may be seen to shiver, or the hair stands erect, especially along the
spine, and the horns, ears, and limbs are cold. The temperature in the
rectum is elevated by one or two decrees, the pulse is small, hard, and
rapid (70 to 100), appetite is lost, rumination ceases, and the milk
shrinks in quantity or is entirely arrested, and the breathing is hurried.
The hind limbs may shift uneasily, the tail be twisted, the head and
eyes turn to the right flank, and the teeth are ground. With the flush
of heat to the horns and other extremities, there is redness of the eyes,
nose, and mouth, and usually a dark redness about the vulva. Pressure
on the right flank gives manifest pain, causing moaning or grunting,
and the hind limbs arc moved stiflly, extremely so if the general lining
of the abdomen is involved. In severe cases the cow lies down and can
not be made to rise. There is usually marked thirst, the bowels are
costive, and dung is passed with pain and effort. The hand inserted
into the vagina perceives the increased heat, and when the neck of the
womb is touched the cow winces with pain. Examination through the
rectum detects enlargement and tenderness of the womb. The discharge
from the vulva is at first watery, but becomes thick, yellow, and finally
red or brown, with u heavy or fetid odor. Some cases recover speedily
and may be almost well in a couple of days; a large proportion perish


within two days of the attack, 'and some merge into the chronic form,
terminating in Ieucorrho3a i In the worst cases there is local septic in-
fection and ulceration, or even gangrene of the parts, OD there is gen-
eral septicaemia, or the inflammation involving the veins of the womb
causes coagulation of the blood contained in them, and the washing out
of the clots to the right heart and lungs leads to blocking of the vessels
in the latter and complicating pneumonia. Inflammations of the womb
and passages after calving are always liable to these complications,
and consequently to a fatal issue. Franck records three instances of
rapidly fatal metritis in cows, all of which had been poisoned from an
adjacent cow with retained and putrid afterbirth. Others have had
similar cases.

Treatment in the slight cases of simple inflammation does not differ
much from that adopted for vaginitis, only care must be taken that
the astringent and antiseptic injections are made to penetrate into the
womb. After having washed out the womb a solution of chloride of
lime or permanganate of potash (1 ounce to 1 quart of water), with an
ounce each of glycerine and laudanum to render it more soothing, will
often answer every purpose. It is usually desirable to open the bowels
with 1 pounds Glauber salts and 1 ounce ginger in 4 quarts of warm
water, and to apply fomentations of warm water or even mustard poul-
tices or turpentine to the right flank.

In the violent attacks with high temperature and much prostration,
besides the salts, agents must be given to' lower the temperature and
counteract septic poisoning. Salicylate of soda one-half ounce, or quinia
2 drams, repeated every four hours, will help in both ways, or ounce
doses of hyposulphite of soda or dram doses of carbolic acid may be
given at equal intervals until six doses have been taken. Tincture of
aconite has often been used in 20-drop doses every six hours. If the
temperature rises to 106 or 107 F., it must be met by the direct appli-
cation of cold or iced water to the surface. The animal may be covered
with wet sheets, and cold water poured on these at intervals until the
temperature in the rectum is lowered to 102 F. In summer the cow
may be allowed to dry spontaneously, while in winter it should be
rubbed dry and blanketed. Even in the absence of high temperature
much good may be obtained from the soothing influence of a wet sheet
covering the loins and flanks and well covered at all points by a dry
one. This may be followed next day by a free application of mustard
and oil of turpentine. When the animal shows extreme prostration
alcohol (1 pint) or carbonate of ammonia (1 ounce) maybe given to tide
over the danger, but such cases usually perish.

In this disease, even more than in difficult and protracted parturition
or retained placenta, the attendants must carefully guard against the
infection of their hands and arms from the diseased parts. The hand
and arm before entering the passage's should always be well smeared
with lard impregnated with carbolic acid.



This disease is not only peculiar to the cow, but it may be said to be
virtually confined to the improved and plethoric cow. It further occurs
only at or near the time of calving. Indeed, these two factors, calving
and plethora, may be set apart as preeminently the causes of this dis-
ease. It is the disease of cows that have been improved in the direc-
tion of early maturity, power of rapid fattening, or a heavy yield of
milk, and hence it is characteristic of those having great appetites and
extraordinary power of digestion. The heavy milking breeds are espe-
cially its victims, as in these the demand for the daily yield of 50 to 100
pounds of milk means even more than a daily increase of 2 to 3 pounds of
body weight, mainly fat. The victims are not always fat when attacked,
but they are cows having enormous powers of digestion, and which
have been fed heavily at the time. Hence the stall-fed city dairy cow,
and the farm cow on a rich clover pasture in June or July, are espe-
cially subject. The condition of the blood globules in the suffering cow
attest the extreme richness and density of the blood, yet this peculiar-
ity appears to have entirely escaped the notice of veterinary writers.
1 have never examined the blood of a victim of this disease without find-
ing the red blood- globules reduced to little more than one-half their
usual size. Now, these globules expand or contract according to the
density of the liquid in which they float. If we dilute the blood with
water they will expand until they burst, whereas if solids, such as salt
(ii albumen, arc added they shrink to a large extent. Their small size,
therefore, in parturition fever indicates the extreme richness of the
blood, or, in other words, plethora.

Confinement in the stall is an accessory cause, partly because stabled
cattle are highly fed, partly because the air is hotter and fouler, and
partly because there is no expenditure by exercise of the rich products
of digestion.

High temperature is conducive to the malady, though the extreme
colds of winter are no protection against it. Heat, however, conduces
to fever, and fever means lessened secretion, which means a plethoric
Stan- of the circulation. The heats of summer are, however, often only
a coincidence of the real cause, the mature rich pastures and especially
the clover ones being the greater.

Electrical disturbance* have an influence of a .similar kind, disturbing
the functions of the taxly, and favoring sudden variations in the circula-
tion. A succei< in of cases of the malady often accompany or precede
a change of weather from dry to wet, from a low to a high barometric

Cotircnex9, which is the usual concomitant of fever, may in a case of
this kind lu'come an accessory cause, the retention in the blond of what
should liave passed oil' by the t>n\vc)s tending to increase the fulness of
the blood vessels ami the density of the blood.


Mature age is a very strong accessory cause. The disease never

Online LibraryUnited States. Bureau of Animal IndustrySpecial report on diseases of cattle and on cattle feeding → online text (page 28 of 56)