United States. Bureau of Animal Industry.

Special report on diseases of cattle and on cattle feeding online

. (page 38 of 56)
Online LibraryUnited States. Bureau of Animal IndustrySpecial report on diseases of cattle and on cattle feeding → online text (page 38 of 56)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

acts as a stimulus to the growth of hair, and we find in consequence a
thicker coat in winter than in summer. The hairs also furnish protec-
tion against wet, as they are always more or less oily from the secretion


of sebaceous glands, and thus shed water. The hairs, through their
elasticity, furnish mechanical protection, and through the thickness of
the coat, to a certain degree, resist the attacks of insects. Finally,
the hairs assist the sense of touch.

The sweat-glands are constantly discharging a watery secretion in
the form of insensible perspiration, and by their influence act as regu-
lators of the temperature of the body. Hence, in warm weather, the
secretion of the skin is increased, which tends to prevent the overheat-
ing of the body. Sweating, in addition to regulating heat, is also an
active agent in removing eftete material from the blood; therefore this
secretion can not be checked without danger to the animal. If the skin
be cove- red with an impermeable coating of grease or tar, death results
from blood poisoning, due to the retention of materials destined to be
excreted by the skin.

The total amount of secretion poured out by the skin is not only modi-
fied by the condition of the atmosphere, but also by the character and
quantity of the food, by the amount of exercise, and especially by the
quantity of fluid taken.

The sebaceous secretion is intended to lubricate the skin and hairs.
It consists of soft, fatty material suspended in water, and is character-
ized by a special odor peculiar to the animal by which it is secreted.

I will not attempt to classify the various diseases of the skin, for in a
work of this kind it would only serve to confuse the reader.

We will first consider a class of diseases which are of an inflamma-
tory type; next, those due to faulty secretion and abnormal growth ;
then, diseases of parasitic origin; and, lastly, local injuries of the skin.


'We will consider pruritis first as a distinct subject. It is not a dis-
ease, only a sensation, and therefore a symptom. It is one of the symp-
toms accompanying the majority of the diseases which we will consider
in this work. It may truly be considered ;v neurosis, or increased sen-
sibility of the skin hypi'i'a'xlhvxin, dependent upon nervous excitability.
It is, then, a functional affection, nerve disturbance, unaccompanied by
primary structural changes in the skin. Nothing is seen except the
secondary lesions, produced mechanically by scratching or rubbing.

There are various fonM of itching, the result of specific skin diseases,
where* the pruritis is ft secondary symptom. In anch cases it should
not bo regarded an an affection.

('nw*. Many cause* may induce the condition which we recogni/e
here as pruriti*. The mo*! common one is gastro-intesttnal irritation.
Thin condition is often witnessed in cattle suffering from impaction or
inflammation of the third stomach, and has been called mad itch,' 1 from
the fact that the affected animal manifested a mad fury in rubbing cer-
tain portions of the lody, even to lacerating the skin on the sides of tin 1
body and legs with the teeth. In attacks of dysentery I hnve nten


cattle rub the root of the tail and buttocks until the flesh was worn
off down to the bones.

Another cause is found in affections of the liver and of the kidneys,
when an increase of effete material has to be thrown off by the skin.
Morbid materials circulating in the blood may produce a tickling or
smarting sensation of the skin in their passage from the blood to the
free surface of the skin. Certain irritating substances when eaten may
be excreted by the skin, and coming thus in direct contact with the
sensory nerves produce itching. In another class of cases the pruritis
may be due to an atrophy, contraction, or hardening of the skin, when
the nerves become irritated by the pressure. These conditions may be
so slightly marked in a thick skin like that of the ox that they can not
be recognized. It is frequently noticed that cattle will rub themselves
as soon as they pass from the stable into the open air changing from
a warm to a cold atmosphere. Again, we may find an animal which
does all its rubbing in the stall. We may look for lice, but fail to find
them. These conditions are generally attributable to high feeding and
to too close confinement. They may be associated with inflammatory
irritation or not certainly we fail to discover any morbid changes in
the skin. There is to some extent a delightful sensation produced by
rubbing, and it may partly become a habit of pleasure.

Treatment. We must place our chief reliance upon a change of food,
plenty of exercise, and in most cases the administration of an active
cathartic 1 to li pounds of Epsom salts, a handful of common salt, a
tablespoonful of ginger or pepper, mixed with 2 quarts of water, all
of which is to be given at one dose. Afterward half an ounce of hypo-
sulphite of soda may be given twice a day for a week, mixed with the
feed. For an external application, when the skin is abraded or thick-
ened from rubbing, a solution of borax, 4 ounces to the quart of water,
may be used. Carbolic acid, ounce to a quart of water, will give
relief in some cases.


This is the simplest form of inflammation of the skin. It consists of
an increased redness, which may occur in patches or involve consider-
able surface. The red coloration disappears when pressed upon by the
finger, but soon returns again after the pressure is removed. There is
seldom much swelling of the affected part, though often a glutinous
discharge may be noticed, which dries and mats the hair or forms a
thin scale upon the skin. In simple erythema the epidermis alone is
affected; when it becomes chronic, fissures form, which extend into the
coriuni or true skin.

Erythema is divided into Erythema simplex, E. chronicum, and E.


Causes. Erythema simplex, consisting of an inflammatory irritation,
is witnessed in very young calves, in which the navel leaks. The
discharge being urine, it causes an irritation of the surrounding
skin. Erythema intertrigo is that condition known as chafing, and is
occasionally seen on the udder of cows from chafing by the legs; chaf-
ing between the legs is not uncommon among fat steers. Erythema
chronicum, or mainmillarum, is found in the form of chapped teats of
cows and chapped lips in suckling calves. It frequently occurs in cows
when they are turned out in winter directly after milking, and in others
from chafing by the calf in sucking. Some cows are peculiarly subject
to sore teats. The fissures when neglected in the early stage of forma-
tion become deep, very painful, often bleeding at the slightest touch,
and cause the animal to become a kicker when milked in that condition.
Occasionally the lower portions of the legs become irritated and chapped
when cattle are fed in a muddy or wet yard in winter, or if they are
compelled to wade through water in frosty weather.

Treatment. In ordinary cases of erythema, the removal of the cause
and the application of benzoated oxide of zinc ointment, carbolized
cosmoline, or a mixture of creolin, 1 ounce to a pint of water, applied
a few times, will restore the skin to a healthy condition.

When there are fissures the zinc ointment is the best. If at the teats,
a milk syphon (Plate xxiv, Fig. 4) should be used instead of milking
by hand, and the calf, if there is one suckled, should be taken away.
When the calf s mouth is affected it should be fed by hand. When the
legs are irritated or chapped, dry stabling for a few days and the appli-
cation of tar ointment will soon heal them.


This is a mild inflammatory affection of the skin, characterized by
sudden development of patches of various sizes, from that of a nickel
to as large as the hand. The patches of raised skin are marked by an
abrupt border, and are irregular in form. All the swelling may disap-
pear in a few hours, or it may go away in one place and reappear on
another part of the body. It is always accompanied by a great desire
to rub the affected part. In its simplest type, as just described, it
is never followed by any serous exudation, or eruptions, unless the
surface oT the skin becomes abraded from scratching or rubbing.
Another typo of urticaria, known as lichen urtictitu*, by some writers
designated pruriyo rcrnalis or spring itch, is manifested by the erup-
tion of small vesicles upon the swollen parts of the skin. These dis-
appear more slowly and are followed by loss of the hair of the affected
areas. This form of the disease is more apt than the former to become
scattered over the whole body. Its duration greatly depends upon the
presence or the removal of the exciting cause*. Occasionally the
relapses are so frequent that it finally becomes a chronic disorder.

Games. Derangements of the digestive organs are the most common


cau-f-. such as overloading the stomacli when the animal is turned out
to graze in the spring, certain constituents of food and high feeding
among fattening stock. When the kidneys are functionally deranged
urticaria may appear. Spinal irritation and other nervous affections
may cause it.

Treatment. Administer a full dose of Epsom salts. Give soft, easily
digested food, and wash the affected parts with a solution of bicarbon-
ate of soda common baking soda 8 ounces to the gallon of water twice
a day. If it assumes a persistent tendency, give a tablespoonful of the
following powder in the feed three times a day : Cream of tartar, sul-
phur, and nitrate of potash, equal parts by weight, mix. A tablespoon-
ful of Fowler's solution of arsenic may be given in drinking water
once a day, if the case has assumed a chronic or recurrent character.


Eczema is a noncontagious inflammation of the skin, characterized
by any or all of the results of inflammation at once or in succession,
such as erythema, vesicles, or pustules, accompanied by more or less
infiltration and itching, terminating in a watery discharge, with the
formation of crusts or in scaling off. The disease may run an acute
course and then disappear, or it may become chronic ; therefore, two
varieties are recognized, vesicular or pustular, and chronic eczema.

Causes. Eczema is not so common among cattle as in horses and in
dogs, in which it is the most common of all skin diseases. Among cat-
tle it is occasionally observed under systems of bad hygiene, filthiness,
lousiness, overcrowding, overfeeding, excessively damp or too warm sta-
bles. It is found to develop now and then in cattle that are fed upon
sour substances, distillery swill, house or garden garbage, etc. Localized
eczema may be caused by irritant substances applied to the skin tur-
pentine, ammonia, the essential oils, mustard, Spanish fly ointment,
etc. Occasionally an eruption with vesiculation of the skin has been
induced by the excessive use of mercurial preparations for the destruc-
tion of lice.

Symptoms. In accordance with the variety of symptoms during the
progress of the disease we may divide it into different stages or periods.

(1) Swelling and increased heat of the skin; the formation of vesicles,
which are circumscribed, rounded elevations of the epidermis, varying
in size from a pin head to a split pea, containing a clear, watery fluid;

(2) exudation of a watery, glutinous fluid, formation of crusts, and some-
times suppuration, or the formation of vesicles containing pus (pus-
tules); (3) scaling off (desquamation), with redness, and thickening of
the skin. From the very beginning of the disease the animal will com-
mence to rub the affected parts, hence the various stages may not
always be easily recognized, as the rubbing will produce more or less
abrasion, thus leaving the skin raw sometimes bleeding. Neither do
these symptoms always occur in regular succession, for in some cases


ill - exudation will be most prominent, being very profuse, and serve to
spread tin* disorder over a large surface. In other cases the formation
of incrustations, or rawness ( ,f the skin, will be the most striking- fea-
iii;v. The disease may be limited to certain small areas, or it may be
diffused over the greater part of the body ; the vesicles or pustules may
be scattered in small clusters, or a large number run together. The
chronic form is really only a prolongation of the disease, SUCCCSMV.
crops of pustules appearing on various portions of the body, frequently
invading fresh sections of the skin, while the older surfaces form scabs
or crusts upon the raw, indurated skin.

Jn old standing cases the skin will break, forming fissures, especially
on portions of the body that bend the neck and limbs. Thus the dis-
ease may be prolonged indefinitely. When eczema reaches its latest
period, either acute or chronic, desquamatiou of the affected parts is
the most prominent feature. The formation and shedding of these suc-
cessive crops of scales constitute the character of the disease frequently
denominated psoriasis.

Treatment. The treatment of eczema is often anything but a pleasant
task. There is no one method of treatment which will always prove
successful, no matter how early it is begun, or how small an area is
involved. We must endeavor to remove the cause by giving attention
to the general health of the animal and its environment. Feeding
should be moderate in quantity and not too stimulating in character
green feed, bran mashes, ground oats, clean hay, plenty of salt. If the
animal has been fed too high, give an active purgative Epsom salts
prefen e,d once a week, if necessary, and half an ounce of acetate or
nitrate of potash may be given in the feed twice a day. If the animal
is in poor condition and debilitated, give a tablespoon ful of the follow-
ing mixture in feed twice a day: Powdered copperas, gentian, sulphur,
and sassafras bark, equal parts by weight. If the animal is lousy the
parasites must be destroyed before the eczema can be cured. The
external treatment must vary with the character of the lesions; no
irritating application is to be made while the disease is in its acute,
vesicular, or pustular stage, and, in the chronic stage, active stimu-
lants must be used. Much washing is harmful, yet crusts and seale-s
must be removed in order to obtain satisfactory results from the external
applications. Both objects, however, can be attained by judiciously
combining the curative agents with such substances as will at the same
time cleanse the parts.

In the vesicular stage, when the skin is feverish and the epidermis
peeling off, exposing the exuding skin, an application of boracic acid
solution, 2 drains of the a-cid to 8 ounces of water, will often relieve the
smarting or itching, and also serve to check the exudation and dry the
surface. If this fails to hare the desired effect usecrcolin, 1 ounce to a
quart of water as a wash, or the black wash, composed of 1 dram of
calomel to 10 ounces of linic water. Anvof these three washes may IK?


used several times a day until incrustation is well established. Then
use creoliu, 1 ounce to a pint of sweet oil, or the benzoated oxide of
zinc ointment, giving the affected surfaces a thorough application once
a day. When the eczema is not the result of an external irritant it
takes usually from one to two weeks before the healing is completed.

In chronic eczema, where there is a succession of scabs or scales,
indolent sores or fissures, the white precipitate ointment, nitrate of mer-
cury ointment, or blue ointment, mixed with equal parts of cosmoline
or fresh lard, may be applied every second day, taking care to protect
the parts so anointed that the animal can not lick it off.

In some cases the use of the following mixture will do well : Oil of tar
one-half ounce, glycerine 1 ounce, alcohol 1 pint. Bub this in after
cleansing the parts with warm water and soap. The internal admin-
istration of arsenic often yields excellent results in chronic eczema.
Take 1 dram of arsenic, 1 dram of carbonate of potash, 1 pint of boiling
water, and give 1 ounce of this twice a day in water, after feeding.


Impetigo is an inflammatory disease of the skin, characterized by the
formation of distinct pustules, about the size of a pea or bean, unat-
tended by itching. The pustules develop from the papular layer of the
skin, and contain a yellowish white pus. After reaching maturity they
remain stationary for a few days, then they disappear by absorption
and dry up into crusts. Later the crusts drop off, leaving upon the skin
a red spot which soon disappears. Occasionally the crusts remain
firmly adherent for a long time, or they may be raised up and loosened
by the formation of matter underneath. The dry crusts usually have a
brown or black appearance.

Causes. Impetigo larvalis generally affects sucking calves only, in
which the disease appears upon the lips, nostrils, and face. It is attribu-
ted to some irritant substance contained in the mother's milk. Impet-
igo labialis et facialis generally is witnessed among grazing animals,
regardless of age, and it especially attacks animals with white hair and
skin. The mouth, face, and limbs become covered with pustules, which
may rupture in a few hours, followed by rapid and successive incrusta-
tions; the scabs frequently coalesce, covering a lai*g - e surface; pus may
form under them, and the whole thickness of the skin become involved
in the morbid process. This form of the disease is attributed to the
local irritant properties of plants growing in the pasture, such as St.
John's wort (Hypcrlcum perforatumj, smartweed (Polygonutn liydro-
pipcr), vetches, honeydew, etc. Buckwheat, at the time the seeds
become ripe, is said to have caused it, also bedding with buckwheat

Treatment. Sucking calves should be removed from the mother, and
the latter should have a purgative to divert the poisonous substance
secreted with the milk. When the more formidable disease among


grazing cattle appears the pasturage should be changed, and the affected
parts of the animal thoroughly anointed once a day with sweet oil, con-
taining 2 drams of carbolic acid to the pint. This should be continued
until the crusts soften and begin to drop off, then the parts may be
thoroughly cleansed with warm water and soap. Subsequently apply
the white precipitate ointment or carbolized cosmoline daily until the
parts are healed.


This is an affection characterized by the formation of one or more
large, isolated, flat pustules, situated upon an inflamed base. They
occur mostly where the skin is thin and unprotected by hair on the
udder, inside of thighs, and on or about the external genital organs.

Causes. Disorder of the blood in debilitated conditions of the system ;
occasionally as the result of septic infection, by discharges following
imperfect or tedious cleansing after calving.

Symptoms. Large round or oval flattened pustules form, from the
size of a pea to that of a chestnut. They are yellowish in color, sur-
rounded by a red sensitive margin. Afterwards the pustules become
reddish from admixture with blood, and soon dry into brown, flat
crusts. The duration of each pustule may extend over a period of two
weeks; meanwhile new ones form, until the cause is removed.

Ecthyma differs from impetigo in the size of the pustules and crust,
and differs from boils in not having a core in the center.

Treatment. General tonic treatment internally. Removal of offend-
ing discharges and disinfection of the affected region, by frequent
bathing with creolin, 1 ounce to a pint of water. Open each pustule
as soon as it forms and cauterize the bottom with nitrate of silver, or
dilute liquor nitrate of mercury. If crusts are present they must be
soaked loose by frequent applications of oil or lard, and then treated
with carbolized cosmoline until the skin is restored to health.


This is an inflammatory disease of the skin, characterized by succes-
sive formations of rounded, irregularly-shaped water blisters, varying
in size from a pea to a hen's egg.

Ca UHCH. Obscure.

Symptom*. The formation of a blister is preceded by a congestion
or swelling of the skin. Yellowish -colored water collects beneath the
cuticle, which raises the latter from its bed in the form of a blister.
The blisters appear in a succession of crops; as soon as one crop dis-
appears another forms. They usually occur in clusters, each one being
distinct, or they may coalesce. Each erop usually runs its course in a
week. Itching or burning sensations attend this disease, which cause
the animal to rub, thereby frequently producing excoriations and for-
mation of crust on the affected region.


Treatment. Give a tablespoonful of the following mixture in feed
twice a day : Saltpeter, cream of tartar, and sulphur, equal parts by
weight. The blisters should be opened as soon as formed, to allow the
escape of the serum, then apply a wash composed of chloride of zinc, 1
dram to 15 ounces of water. When there is any formation of crusts
apply carbolized cosmoliue.


This is an acute affection of the skin, usually involving its whole
thickness, characterized by the formation of one or more abscesses, orig-
inating generally in a sebaceous gland, sweat-gland, or hair follicle.
They usually terminate by absorption, or by the formation of a central
core, which sloughs out, leaving a deep round cavity that soon heals.

Causes. Impoverished state of the blood, the result of kidney dis-
eases, or of local friction, or contusions.

Symptoms. Boils in cattle usually appear singly, not in clusters;
they may attain the size of a hen's egg. The abscess begins as a small
round nodule, painful to pressure, gradually increases in size until death
of the central portion takes place, then the surface of the skin gives
way to internal pressure, and the core is released and expelled. Con-
stitutional symptoms are generally absent, unless the boils occur in
considerable numbers, or by their size involve a great amount of tissue. -

Treatment. Poulticing to ripen the abscess. If this can not be
done, apply coinphorated oil two or three times a day until the core is
formed. As soon as the central or most prominent part becomes soft,
the abscess should be opened to release the core. Then use carbolized
cosnioliue once a day until the healing is completed. If the animal is
in poor condition give tonics copperas, gentian, ginger, and sulphur,
equal parts by weight, one tablespooiiful twice a day. If the animal
manifests a feverish condition of the system, administer half an ounce
of saltpeter twice a day, continuing it several days or a week.


This is a condition characterized by an excessive secretion of sebace-
ous matter, forming upon the skin in small crusts or scales.

Causes. It is due to a functional derangement of the sebaceous
glands, usually accompanied by dryness and loss of pliancy of the skin.
The animal is hidebound, as it is commonly termed, thin in flesh,
inclined to rub, and very frequently lousy. The condition is observed
most often towards the spring of the year. Animals that are contin-
ually housed, the skins of which receive no cleaning, generally present
a coat filled with fine scales, composed of epithelium from the epider-
mis and dried sebaceous matter. This, however, is a physiological con-
dition, and compatible with perfect health.


Symptoms. J'ityviasis may affect tlic greater portion of the body,
though usually only certain parts are affected the ears, neck, ruiup,
etc. The skin becomes scurfy, the hairy coat filled with bran-like,
gray, or whitish scales.

Treatment. Nutritious food, such as oil-cake meal, brau, ground oats,
and clean hay. In the spring it generally disappears after the animal
is turned out to pasture. When liee are present they should be


This condition consist s in a chronic thickening of the skin, which may
affect one or more limbs, or involve the whole integument. It is char-
acterized by recurrent attacks of swelling of the skin and subcutane-
ous areolar tissue. After each attack the affected parts remain infil-
trated to a larger extent than before, until finally the skin may attain

Online LibraryUnited States. Bureau of Animal IndustrySpecial report on diseases of cattle and on cattle feeding → online text (page 38 of 56)