It’s taken a while, but Magner’s Farm and Stock Book and Complete Instructor is back for a fifth time, and today we’ll be discussing some important farm issues: swine, fowl, and parasites common to all farm animals. Anyone who needs to catch up can read about the book on the literature page; the actual text is available there in PDF format, and there are links to the appropriate discussion posts as well. Don’t miss out on such riveting topics as sheep castration, horse training, and mushroom culture.
Once you’ve downloaded the PDF files, follow along below as we delve into 130 pages of pure Magner brilliance.
Magner immediately establishes his case for “the swine interest” on page 651, saying that the cost from hog-cholera alone is between 10 and 50 million dollars. Much of this cost is apparently due to simple parasites. From this introduction, the author moves to a discussion of different breeds of pig.
Fortunately, Magner realizes the magnitude of his artistic prowess and asserts on page 652 that his “illustrations tell the story so plainly as to make extended verbal description unnecessary.” Surprisingly, he still includes text, surely just for good measure. It would seem that fat hogs with good digestion and tiny bones are most desirable, but a mix of large and small breeds is necessary (652). Hogs should be fed daily, from one to four times, and always on a regular schedule (653). Also, pigs that can take baths in clean water will magically digest their food better (653).
Magner notes the importance of keeping hogs in good condition, astutely observing that worms can interfere with digestive properties and cause the animals to do poorly (653-654). His demands for a hog house are quite high; new straw should be spread every couple of days, and the trough needs to be washed daily (654). Magner fails to mention that the good farmer should abstain from berating the hogs with sarcastic quips of “your majesty” while tending to porcine needs. Oh, and hogs also need posts to rub up against and shade to sleep under (654, 658).
Page 658 sees the beginning of hog parasite discussion, and this continues until 687. The diseases need not be illuminated here, but it would be good to read up on these topics before starting a hog farm of one’s own. A major disease, hog-cholera, is discussed beginning on page 665. Formulations for treating the disease vary on a case-by-case basis, but the best formula is given on page 668:
Wood charcoal, 1 lb.,
Sulphur, 1 lb.,
Sodium chlorid, 2 lb.,
Sodium bicarbonate, 2 lb.,
Sodium hyposulphite, 2 lb.,
Sodium sulphate, 1 lb.,
Antimony sulphid, 1 lb.
Trichina spiralis, a deadly parasite not exclusive to hogs, is addressed from 683-687. Magner’s knowledge of the worm is impressive, and he reveals that the ingestion of these encysted parasites (as in undercooked pork) can cause trichinosis in humans (683, 685). In fact, one pound of infected pork could produce 400,000,000 worms in a human (685). Numerous treatments for the disease are given on page 686.
Parasite: is there any sweeter word in the English language? Pages 700-748 kick the action up a bit and are all about bugs inside of livestock – their signs, symptoms, and treatment. For instance, gut worms can make a horse extremely flatulent and a cow or sheep emaciated (701), with an itchy anus (702). Good advice for preventing these itchy anuses is to keep flocks from infected dogs and destroy all found parasites by fire or boiling (703).
Different curative remedies are given for various animals, albeit in a rather dull presentation (704-707). The “ethereal extract of male shield fern” is one of the best solutions, Magner claims (707). Beyond this, further discussion is essential parasitology (722-727) – useful from a foundational aspect, but limited in practical value.
Magner talks about intestinal worms from 730-733, then mentions maggots and other parasites on pages 733-734. It isn’t until page 745 that the author begins an in-depth examination of external parasites, such as lice, ticks, and maggots. He says that “lousiness generally becomes manifest in winter and toward spring” (745), a literal use of the word that I had never considered. Again, the best way to prevent these infestations is simply through cleanliness (746). Failing that, treatment can be accomplished through “a decoction of fishberries,” according to some mysterious “leading authority” (747). Also effective is Schleg’s Mixture (748) – but we knew that already.
Finally, the esteemed farm expert gets to the topic of the hen. A good rule of thumb is that “the progeny of the best layers also make the best layers” (761), as one might expect. There are different breeds of chickens, like Minorcas, Andalusians, Leghorns, Houdans, Hamburgs, and Dorkings (761); all are fine. Remember that “a lot of March pullets will give winter eggs if well reared” (762). Each hen can lay between 180 and 250 eggs a year (762), but don’t forget to change out roosters annually (763).
Poultry houses must face from east to south (764). For incubation of eggs, Magner says a temperature of 103 degrees is best (765). Newly-hatched chicks don’t need to be fed for 24 hours, and it’s best to wait until 36 hours before feeding them with milk-soaked breadcrumbs (768). The author then continues to describe the feeding procedure for a young chicken in detail (768-769).
Pages 769-772 convey diseases of the chicken, including gapes (syngamosis) (769) and favus (772). Gapes is caused by a male and female worm that are permanently joined together (769), and may be treated either by air-slaked lime or by putting the effected chickens in a box and blowing cigar smoke all over them until they pass out (771). Favus is caused by a fungus (772), and it may be treated with the simple application of benzine or carbolic acid (773).
As for the mites and lice, I won’t go into it here, but Magner mentions Dermanyssus (774), harvest-bug (775), Cheyletus (776), Sarcoptidae epidermicoles (776), Sarcoptes mutans (776-778), and Cytoditinae (780-781). There is also a brief passage on “scaly legs,” found on pages 778-779.
Wrapping It Up
These were not the most entertaining sections of the Farm and Stock Book and Complete Instructor, but they were necessary to the farmer. Stick around, however, because there are only two entries remaining in the series, and they are among Magner’s finest. Coming up next time: medicines and home remedies.