All the help that the orthodox veterinary profession has been able to offer me in connection with animal diseases, failed hopelessly to get me out of my difficulties. I think the outstanding reason for this is that all orthodox treatment is based on the assumption that disease is caused by bacteria; that disease is contracted solely by infection, and that the injection of a culture of the disease bacteria, or of a substance calculated to kill the 'offending' bacteria, will enable the animal to resist the disease. In my experience, these assumptions have been shown to be wildly wide of the mark.
Bacteria which are found to be active in diseased animals are secondary to the unhealthy condition in the animal body, and not themselves the cause. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the bacteria arise as a result of the condition, though this is not to deny the fact of a disease developing through contact, provided the necessary conditions for the development of the disease are first present in the animal 'contracting' the disease. The fact is that a cow in sound health does not succumb to disease, and it was in this fact -- that many of my animals remained untouched by the flood of active bacteria which surrounded them -- that I found the clue to my solution of all cattle disease problems. Having convinced myself that bacteria do not multiply in the healthy body, I was able to exonerate bacteria as the primary cause of disease. Having dismissed bacteria as the culprit and indeed concluded that nature probably had a good purpose for the bacteria which are found in the diseased condition, the solution of the problem of disease became a simple process of elimination.
I asked myself what were the main changes in our management of cattle since the days when disease was rare; what were the main differences, that our herds should contain so much more disease to-day than they did in my father's and grandfather's day? And the answer came back like a shot: intensified exploitation of the dairy cow, artificial feeding, and the mad race for higher and higher yields, with all the attendant artificial practices which have multiplied as disease has become more widespread. Vaccination has increased in proportion to the incidence of disease, which at once brings it under suspicion as one of the causes of disease -- if we operate this system of deduction -- rather than the preventive which we have blindly believed it to be.
I could only get at the true cause of disease by eliminating these factors which have grown in the same ratio as the incidence of disease. By process of elimination I was able to find the factors which had made the greatest contribution to the development and increase of disease. To have allowed these causes to remain, and attempt disease eradication by treating the symptoms, in the way that the veterinary practitioner was doing, would only have landed me in the bankruptcy court and my cows deeper in the swamp of disease which threatened to engulf them.
I came to the conclusion that abortion, mastitis, sterility and tuberculosis, as well as most other diseases of cattle, had their real foundation in the toxic condition of the animal body, brought about by unnatural methods of management. The fact that these diseases are rare among young stock (it is generally only when the animal has undergone at least one lactation that the real trouble starts, though of course heredity is gaining in its power of predisposition to disease and bringing our young stock more immediately under the burden of disease), and less common in the beef breeds, indicated that it was management for milk production rather than bacterial infection which was the primary cause.
Thus I reached my conclusions regarding the real causes of disease in cattle, which I summarize as follows:
(1) Artificial feeding with concentrated foods which lack the health factors of fresh whole foods, or home-grown foods which are forced with chemical fertilizers to grow faster than the capacity of the plant to absorb the natural health agents of the soil. Scientific feeding of dairy cattle has as its primary aim the stimulation of maximum milk yield with little consideration for the health of the cow, and no means of assuring the provision of those health essentials which are contained in fresh food grown in naturally manured, humus-rich soil, and which the nutritionist has so far failed to isolate and prepare artificially for inclusion in manufactured compound foods. Plant hormones, for instance, are no doubt a potent factor in the development of hormone secretions in the animal body, for we now know the imperative necessity of an adequate hormone supply in the body. Yet hormones cannot be substituted artificially through the plant to the animal in the way that nature provides. Under modern methods of management the higher the yield of the cow the less natural food is she allowed to have; hence the greater her potentiality for milk production the lower her intake of the foods which are rich in natural health factors. Health goes in at the mouth, and if we cut down the health-giving foods provided by nature to function in ways we cannot fully understand, all the veterinary surgeons in the world will not save our cows from the doom which commercial 'science' is designing for them.
(2) The cow is expected to produce a heavy milk yield, and at the same time to build the foetus of the calf in her womb. Under natural conditions the cow does not become pregnant again until she has completed the task of rearing one calf and has ceased to produce milk, or at least has declined in her output to the extent that milk production in no way draws from the necessary nutriment of the foetus. Nature asks of the cow only one thing at a time, and she does this efficiently with no risk of disease. (If cattle diseases had been multiplying as rapidly before man's domestication of the cow, as they have done in the last century, she would have long ago become an extinct species.) Man asks of the cow at least two things at a time, and though the cow may just succeed in doing them both she does so at grave peril to her health. Not only does man ask so much more than nature, but he tries to force the process to the utmost of the cow's capacity, and indeed beyond.
(3) Further, taking away the calf at birth -- and now, with artificial insemination even disallowing the natural contact with the bull -- deprives the cow of emotional factors which bring direct stimulus to milk production and breeding ability. At the time of writing a third of all cattle served in this country are artificially inseminated, and there is nothing to indicate in the sales catalogues of pedigree sales whether or not the animal offered for sale is the result of a natural service or a veterinary surgeon's test-tube injection. Not only will the removal of the calf at birth deprive the cow of the essential stimulus of suckling, which encourages the secretions of the uterus and udder, and the cleansing of both after calving, but the calf when mature is bound to suffer from this deprivation of its natural food and the substitution of calf gruel which cannot provide all that nature intended.
It is not surprising, then, that sooner or later there is a breakdown of the cow's constitution, at the point of greatest strain, usually the udder or the uterus. It is at this stage that I believe nature takes the opportunity to rid the body of the toxins which have accumulated from unnatural feeding. This is done by a discharge of catarrhal mucous by way of the walls of the uterus, resulting in the inability of the foetus to remain embedded in the uterus -- abortion -- or by way of the udder -- mastitis. Bacteria already present in the body, awaiting their task of cleansing the body and assisting the consumption of toxic accumulations, develop and consume the wastes of the body. If the body continues to be fed with the food which has given rise to those toxic accumulations, the bacteria multiply beyond all bounds -- run amok, so to speak -- and consume, in addition to their rightful toxins, the tissues of the body. If we fast the animal, and supply known and harmless natural purifiers such as garlic, the bacteria perform the task of cleansing, the body continues to eliminate by means of the catarrhal discharges which, during a fast, are evident from all excretory passages of the body, and the condition may be completely remedied.
If, however, the bacteria are killed, as they are by orthodox treatment, the toxic accumulations remain unconsumed, and though some will be eliminated by the uterus or udder discharges, much will remain to give rise to future attempts on the part of nature to consume or discharge what is foreign to the system, and 'disease' in one form or another will recur.
All this meant for me the following new approach to disease. I became convinced that any attempt to reduce disease by the usual practices of vaccination and germ killing were certain to fail, unless all the factors contributing to a breakdown of the natural forces were eliminated.
I could not hope to reduce disease unless I decided to cooperate with nature. This meant that if I wanted higher yields I must get them by breeding rather than feeding; that I must ask of the cow only what she would comfortably produce on organically grown food without forcing, and that any increased yields in my herd should be obtained from the bull by a process of upgrading.
It meant that I must allow my cows the fullest opportunity for the exercise of natural stimuli -- the suckling calf and the natural sex relationship. It meant that I would allow my cows and bulls the freedom of natural life, as far as was possible, instead of tying them by the neck for several months of the year.
Above all, it meant that my cows must be given their food, as far as possible, while it still had its roots in Mother Earth. And, in the degree to which such natural feeding was not possible, I must provide the widest possible variety of herbs as sources of the mineral and trace elements essential to health.
I must provide adequately of all the bulky natural foods before considering concentrated feeding; kale, silage, hay and straw must come before cake. The ability to withstand disease of all animals, and humans for that matter, is, I am convinced, dependant on natural feeding during the first weeks of life, I am sure the main cause of Johne's disease, for instance, is taking the calf from the cow at, or immediately after birth especially when milk substitutes are fed at an early age.
The first essential of health is, therefore, that the newly born animal should suckle milk from its mother for as long a period as possible and thereafter the next best thing, suckle a foster mother.
I am confident that if we, as farmers, made ourselves more conversant with nature's ways of preventing disease, and imitated them, as far as possible, instead of ignoring them or even opposing them (as it has so blatantly been the practice of 'science' in our generation), then we could say good-bye for ever to the hypodermic needle and the manufacturing chemist.
I hope most profoundly that the immense vested interests in disease will not be so powerful as to prevent this natural course of events, for I believe most earnestly that the future of not only the bovine, but the human race, depend upon it.
My previous chapters on soil management, cropping, and herbal leys, provide the basis of disease prevention and the essentials of health maintenance. In subsequent chapters I shall describe my approach to specific diseases, with some account of my natural methods of treatment of the diseases with which my herd was infested and which, indeed, are the scourge of most dairy farmers of the world. I am grateful to the many breeders who have provided me with 'incurable' animals with which to work out my treatments. None of them suffered, for natural treatment does not call for the horrors of vivisection, and all except one or two that were anatomically defective were cured by methods set out in the succeeding pages of this book.
Next: 20. Mastitis
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