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Spaying






Category: SURGICAL OPERATIONS.

To secure a more uniform flow and a richer quality of milk, cows are
sometimes spayed, or castrated. The milk of spayed cows is pretty
uniform in quality; and this quality will be, on an average, a little
more than before the operation was performed. In instances where the
results of this operation have been carefully noted,--and the operation
is rarely resorted to in this country, in comparison with the custom in
France and other continental countries,--the quality of the milk has
been greatly improved, the yield becoming regular for some years, and
varying only in accordance with the difference in the succulence of the
food.

The proper time for spaying is about five or six weeks after calving, or
at the time when the largest quantity of milk is given. There seems to
be some advantages in spaying for milk and butter dairies, where
attention is not paid to the raising of stock. The cows are more quiet,
never being liable to returns of seasons of heat, which always more or
less affect the milk, both in quantity and quality. They give milk
nearly uniform in these respects, for several years, provided the food
is uniformly succulent and nutritious. Their milk is influenced like
that of other cows, though to a less extent, by the quality and
quantity of food; so that in winter, unless the animal is properly
attended to, the yield will decrease somewhat, but will rise again as
good feed returns. This uniformity for the milk-dairy is of immense
advantage. Besides, the cow, when old and inclined to dry up, takes on
fat with greater rapidity, and produces a juicy and tender beef,
superior, at the same age, to that of the ox.

The following method of performing this operation is sanctioned by the
practice of eminent veterinary surgeons in France:--

Having covered the eyes of the cow to be operated upon, she is placed
against a wall, provided with five rings firmly fastened and placed as
follows: the first corresponds to the top of the withers; the second, to
the lower anterior part of the breast; the third is placed a little
distance from the angle of the shoulder; the fourth is opposite to the
anterior and superior part of the lower region; and the fifth, which is
behind, answers to the under-part of the buttocks. A strong assistant is
placed between the wall and the head of the animal, who firmly holds the
left horn in his left hand, and with his right, the muzzle, which he
elevates a little. This done, the end of a long and strong-plaited cord
is passed, through the ring which corresponds to the lower part of the
breast, and fastened; the free end of the cord is brought along the left
flank, and through the ring which is below and in front of the withers.
This is brought down along the breast behind the shoulder and the angle
of the fore-leg in order to pass it through the third ring; then it must
be passed around against the outer angle of the left hip, and fastened
after having been drawn tightly to the posterior ring, by a simple
bow-knot.

The cow being thus firmly fixed to the wall, a cord is fastened by a
slip-noose around her hocks, to keep them together in such a manner that
she cannot kick the operator, the free end of the cord and the tail
being held by an assistant. The cow thus secured cannot, during the
operation, move forward, nor lie down, and the operator has all the ease
desirable, and is protected from accident.

The operator next--placed opposite to the animal's left flank, with his
back turned a little toward the head of the animal--cuts off the hair
which covers the hide in the middle of the flanks, at an equal distance
between the back and hip, for the space of thirteen or fourteen
centimetres in circumference (the French centimetre is rather more
than thirty-nine one hundredths of an inch); a convex bistoury is
placed, opened, between his teeth, the edge out, the joints to the left;
then, with both hands, he seizes the hide in the middle of the flank,
and forms of it a wrinkle of the requisite elevation, running lengthwise
of the body. The assistant seizes with his right hand the right side of
this wrinkle; the operator takes the bistoury and cuts the wrinkle, at
one stroke, through the middle; the wrinkle having been suffered to go
down, a separation of the hide is presented, of sufficient length to
admit the introduction of the hand; the edges of the hide are separated
with the thumb and fore-finger of the left hand, and in like manner the
abdominal muscles are cut through, for the distance of a centimetre from
the lower extremity of the incision made in the hide,--the iliac
slightly obliquely, and the lumbar across; a puncture of the
peritoneum, at the upper extremity of the wound, is then made with the
straight bistoury; the buttoned bistoury is then introduced, and moved
obliquely from above to the lower part, up to the termination of the
incision made in the abdominal muscles.

The flank being opened, the right hand is introduced into the abdomen,
and directed along the right side of the cavity of the pelvis, behind
the paunch, and underneath the rectum, to the matrix; after the position
of these viscera is ascertained, the organs of reproduction, or ovaries,
are searched for, which are at the extremity of the matrix; when found,
they are seized between the thumb and fore-finger, detached completely
from the ligaments which keeps them in their place, and by a light pull,
the cord and the vessels, the uterine or Fallopian tube, are separated
at their place of union with the ovarium, by means of the nails of the
thumb and fore-finger, which present themselves at the point of touch,
thus breaking the cord and bringing away the ovary.

The hand is again introduced into the abdominal cavity, and the
remaining ovaries brought away in like manner. A suture is then placed
of three or four double threads, waxed at an equal distance, and at two
centimetres, or a little less, from the lips of the wound, passing it
through the divided tissues; a movement is made from the left hand with
the piece of thread; having reached that point, a fastening is made with
a double knot, the seam placed in the intervals of the thread from the
right, and as the lips of the wound are approached, a fastening is
effected by a simple knot, with a bow, care being taken not to close too
tightly the lower part of the seam, in order to allow the suppuration,
which may be established in the wound, to escape. The wound is then
covered up with a pledget of lint, kept in its place by three or four
threads passed through the stitches, and the operation is complete.

It happens, sometimes, that in cutting the muscles before mentioned, one
or two of the arteries are severed. Should much blood escape, a ligature
must be applied before opening the peritoneal sac; since, if this
precaution is omitted, blood will escape into the abdomen, which may
occasion the most serious consequences.

For the first eight days succeeding, the animal should have a light
diet, and a soothing, lukewarm draught; if the weather should be cold,
cover with a woollen covering. She must be prevented from licking the
wound, and from rubbing it against other bodies. The third day after the
operation, bathe morning and evening about the wound with water of
mallows lukewarm, or anoint it with a salve of hog's lard, and
administer an emollient glyster during three or four days.

Eight days after the operation, take away the bandage, the lint, the
fastenings, and the thread. The wound is at that time, as a general
thing, completely cicatrized. Should, however, some slight suppuration
exist, a slight pressure must be used above the part where it is
located, so as to cause the pus to leave, and if it continues more than
five or six days, emollients must be supplied by alcolized water, or
chloridized, especially in summer. The animal is then to be brought back
gradually to her ordinary nourishment.

In some cows, a swelling of the body is observable a short time after
having been spayed, attributable to the introduction of cold air into
the abdomen during the operation; but this derangement generally ceases
within twenty-four hours. Should the contrary occur, administer one or
two sudorific draughts, such as wine, warm cider, or a half-glass of
brandy, in a quart of warm water,--treatment which suffices in a short
time to restore a healthy state of the belly,--the animal at the same
time being protected by two coverings of wool.

The only precaution, in the way of management, to be observed as a
preparative for the operation is, that on the preceding evening not so
copious a meal should be given. The operation should also be performed
in the morning before the animal has fed, so that the operator may not
find any obstacle from the primary digestive organs, especially the
paunch, which, during its state of ordinary fullness, might prevent
operating with facility.

The advantages of spaying milch-cows are thus summed up by able French
writers: First, rendering permanent the secretion of milk, and having a
much greater quantity within the given time of every year; second, the
quality of milk being improved; third, the uncertainty of, and the
dangers incident to, breeding being, to a great extent, avoided; fourth,
the increased disposition to fatten even when giving milk freely, or
when, from excess of age or from accidental circumstances, the secretion
of milk is otherwise checked; fifth, the very short time required to
produce a marketable condition; and sixth, the meat of spayed cattle
being of a quality superior to that of ordinary cattle.

This operation would seem to have originated in this country. The London
Veterinary Journal of 1834 contains the following, taken from the United
States Southern Agriculturist:--"Some years since, I passed a summer at
Natchez, and put up at a hotel there, kept by Mr. Thomas Winn. During
the time that I was there I noticed two remarkably fine cows, which were
kept constantly in the stable, the servant who had charge of the horses,
feeding them regularly three times a day with green guinea grass, cut
with a sickle. These cows had so often attracted my attention, on
account of the great beauty of their form, and deep red color, the large
size of their bags, and the high condition in which they were kept, that
I was at length induced to ask Mr. Winn to what breed of cattle they
belonged, and his reasons for keeping them constantly in the stable in
preference to allowing them to run in the pasture, where they could
enjoy the benefit of air and exercise, and at the same time crop their
own food, and thereby save the labor and trouble of feeding them? Mr.
Winn, in reply to these inquiries, stated that the two cows which I so
much admired were of the common stock of the country, and he believed,
of Spanish origin; but they were both spayed cows, and that they had
given milk either two or three years. Considering this a phenomenon (if
not in nature at least in art), I made further inquiries of Mr. Winn,
who politely entered into a very interesting detail, communicating facts
which were as extraordinary as they were novel. Mr. Winn, by way of
preface, observed that he, in former years, had been in the habit of
reading English magazines, which contained accounts of the
plowing-matches which were annually held in some of the southern
counties of England, performed by cattle, and that he had noticed that
the prizes were generally adjudged to the plowman who worked with spayed
heifers; and although there was no connection between that subject and
the facts which he should state, it was, nevertheless, the cause that
first directed his mind into the train of thought and reasoning which
finally induced him to make the experiments, which resulted in the
discovery of the facts which he detailed, and which I will narrate as
accurately as my memory will enable me to do it, after the lapse of more
than twenty years. Mr. Winn's frequent reflections had (he said) led him
to the belief "that if cows were spayed soon after calving, and while in
a full flow of milk, they would continue to give milk for many years
without intermission, or any diminution of quantity, except what would
be caused by a change from green to dry, or less succulent food." To
test this hypothesis, Mr. Winn caused a very good cow, then in full
milk, to be spayed. The operation was performed about one month after
the cow had produced her third calf; it was not attended with any severe
pain, or much or long continued fever. The cow was apparently well in a
few days, and very soon yielded her usual quantity of milk, and
continued to give freely for several years without any intermission or
diminution in quantity, except when the food was scarce and dry; but a
full flow of milk always came back upon the return of a full supply of
green food. This cow ran in the Mississippi low grounds or swamp near
Natchez, got cast in deep mire, and was found dead. Upon her death, Mr.
Winn caused a second cow to be spayed. The operation was entirely
successful. The cow gave milk constantly for several years, but in
jumping a fence stuck a stake in her bag, that inflicted a severe wound,
which obliged Mr. Winn to kill her. Upon this second loss, Mr. Winn had
two other cows spayed, and, to prevent the recurrence of injuries from
similar causes with those which had occasioned him the loss of the first
two spayed cows, he resolved to keep them always in the stable, or some
safe enclosure, and to supply them regularly with green food, which that
climate throughout the greater part of, if not all, the year enabled him
to procure. The result, in regard to the last two spayed cows, was, as
in the case of the first two, entirely satisfactory, and fully
established, as Mr. Winn believed, the fact, that the spaying of cows,
while in full milk, will cause them to continue to give milk during the
residue of their lives, or until prevented by old age. When I saw the
last two spayed cows it was, I believe, during the third year that they
had constantly given milk after they were spayed. The character of Mr.
Winn (now deceased) was highly respectable, and the most entire
confidence could be reposed in the fidelity of his statements; and as
regarded the facts which he communicated in relation to the several cows
which he had spayed, numerous persons with whom I became acquainted,
fully confirmed his statements."

In November 1861, the author was called to perform this operation upon
the short-horn Galloway cow, Josephine the Second, belonging to Henry
Ingersoll, Esq., of this city. This cow was born May 8th, 1860. The
morning was cold and cloudy. About ten o'clock the cow was cast, with
the assistance of R. McClure, V.S., after which she was placed under the
influence of chloric ether. He then made an incision, about five inches
in length, through the skin and walls of the abdomen, midway between the
pelvis bone and the last rib on the left side, passing in his right
hand, cutting away the ovaries from the Fallopian tubes with the
thumbnail. The opening on the side was then closed by means of the
interrupted suture. The animal recovered from the influence of the
anaesthetic in about fifteen minutes, when she was allowed to rise, and
walk back to her stall.

Upon the morning of the second day succeeding the operation, the animal
was visited and found to be in good spirits, apparently suffering very
little pain or inconvenience from the operation, and the wound healing
nicely.

Since that time, he has operated upon some twenty cows, all of which,
with a single exception, have thus far proved satisfactory.

Several of these cows are under the direction of a committee from the
Philadelphia Society for promoting Agriculture, whose duty it is to have
a daily record kept of each cow's yield of butter and milk, for one year
from the time of spaying. Their report will be perused by the
agricultural community with much interest.

The author's own experience will not justify him in speaking either in
favor of, or against, this operation; as sufficient time has not as yet
elapsed to satisfy him as to its relative advantages and disadvantages.
He, however, regards the operation as comparatively safe. The French
estimate the loss at about fifteen per cent., and the gain at thirty per
cent. Of those upon which he has operated, not a single animal died.





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