doctoring livestock

The holiday season is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than by gaining cursory knowledge of typical farm animals? In this fourth edition of the digital version of Magner’s Farm and Stock Book and Complete Instructor, our favorite author will address various barnyard maladies, interspersed with his unique quips and wit.

If you have not yet read the first 320 pages of Magner’s work, visit the literature link and download the actual digitized text (PDF), or just view the relevant discussion links for analysis and summation. Then get parts 6 and 7 from the same location and follow along below.

Part 6: Equine Anatomy, Shoeing, and Foot Injuries

Magner picks up on page 362 discussing the teeth of the horse, and how one can discover a horse’s age by peering in its mouth. He matter-of-factly asserts that horses have “forty teeth,-twenty-four grinders, twelve front teeth, and four tushes.” He then reviews the eruption pattern of the “nippers,” and goes into detail about what changes occur to the teeth throughout the life of the horse. Many drawings are included on pages 364-365; one must wonder if Magner lost a fingertip or two whilst manipulating horse lips for his sketches.

Page 370 sees Magner giving more good advice betwixt testimonials meant to assuage any doubts the reader still has of Magner’s expertise. Do not forget that “some very good sawlogs have big knots on them,” or that “a running tongue can soon do more damage than a running horse.”

The next section consists of anatomical plates of horse legs and feet, complete with musculature and vessels. Little has changed in horse anatomy over the past century, so it is certain that these figures are as pertinent as they ever were. Of particular importance is the picture on page 379, which clearly shows the “horny frog” of the middle of the foot.

On page 380, Magner begins a vital exposition on proper horse shoeing technique. After all, the old saying goes, “No foot, no horse.” It is noteworthy that not all horses need be shoed, but shoeing is demanded when “the wear becomes greater than the growth of the horn, and when the feet are weak and flat…” (382). Basically, one must be sure to cut away less than too much yet more than not enough (382-383). Disaster can ensue if an improper amount of sole is pared. Shoes should be flat on top and concave on the bottom (383).

Two pages of foot problems are omitted, but pages 386-393 all deal with horse aches and their remedies. Magner specifically states of removing nails from feet (but is surely true in all cases), that “the principle treatment…is to be the reverse of the cause of the trouble, whatever it is” (386). The author continually promotes his other text, and it would certainly be a great supplement to this book, especially since it contains “a secret that the United States Government paid twenty thousand dollars for” (387).

The specifics of treating horse injuries may be read, but will not be covered here. It is simply good to know that those tending for horses should have Friar’s balsam or “compound tincture of benzoin” readily available; fortunately, they’re available “in almost any drug store” (389). Also of note, “thrush is an inflammation of the lower structure of the sensible frog, during which pus is secreted with or instead of horn” (391).

Some larger points about general horse ailments may be found at the beginning of the next section.

Part 7: Horse Care; Butter Tips; Cows and Sheep

Magner lays out some terrific general advice for the care of horses on pages 400-401. A lot of it may seem to be common sense, such as to only give a horse a few swallows of water when he is warm, and to “be sure not to let him stand where a current of air will strike him” (401). The valid point is made:

Give the horse in harness entire freedom of the head, by keeping off the check and blinders. How would you like to be hampered and blinded in this way, while compelled to run or work hard? Think of this.

He then includes a diagram of the blood circulation of a frog’s foot, for no apparent reason.

The overall message of pages 412-413 is that “no broken-winded horse should have food or water for from one to two hours before going to work” (412). There is a secret recipe on page 413 that would not be suitably reproduced here.

Pages 438-439 describe some disorders of interest, essentially pertaining to horse craziness (like staggering around madly or ramming into a wall). Those with sensitive stomachs should avoid pages 474-475; they pertain to castration and “foulness of the sheath and yard.” The general rule is that the sheath needs to be cleaned out several times a year and possibly oiled up, “taking care not to scratch or bruise the parts” (474). This is one of the final and most important pieces of advice Magner has about horses. He handles the difficult subject with class.

Those interested in butter-making need look no further than pages 493-495, where the author conducts a question and answer session with himself (or possibly with C. Linse, “whose butter at the World’s Fair was pronounced perfect” – I’m not sure).

Q. Is the butter salted after it is taken from the churn?
A. Yes, sir.

Well there you have it.

Page 535 begins Magner’s discussion of parturition of cattle. Remember that after a “violent separation” resulting in excessive bleeding, one should always “douch the part with cold water” (536). There are more birthing tips on 537-539, mainly dealing with difficult births.

Finally, the sheep is the subject of pages 600-613. He speaks of the Biblical significance of sheep, reminding us that “there is no animal so intrinsically useful and important to man as the sheep, not even the ox” (601). If nothing else, sheep “add a charm to the most picturesque scenery” (601).

“The farmer should never neglect to salt his sheep” (602), Magner says, but this is widely known. Sheep medicines are listed on 602-603, and 604-607 describe general care of sheep. Sheep are extremely sensitive animals, and “experience shows,-the proofs of which are incontrovertible,-that a little starving, or disregard of feeding, or worry by dogs or from any cause, or undue excitement or strain, will very quickly injure the health” (608). The author does not need to remind the reader that most other animals do fine with “a little starving.”

For a graphic depiction of sheep castration, see page 611. All that is sufficiently related here is that the process involves scraping with a “jagged-edged knife” (611)…

A brief passage about sheep shearing is found on page 613, and that wraps up this installment of Magner’s Farm and Stock Book and Complete Instructor. Phew, that was a mouthful.

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