Argos

Nr. 12 (1995)

J.R. Fisher

The European Enlightenment, political economy and the origins of the veterinary profession in Britain

There is now a considerable secondary literature on the origins and early development of the British veterinary profession. This literature, however, is overwhelmingly supply-side orientated, accounting for the origins of the profession, and of the London Veterinary College in particular, with only a cursory acknowledgment of demand factors. This paper marks an initial attempt to right the balance.

By the late 18th century, there was a potential demand for specialist veterinary services from three main sectors: agriculture, transport and the military. Of these, the first has traditionally received most attention but was probably of least significance as a source of effective demand. Rather, it was military requirements, especially during wartime, which played a crucial role in shaping the nature of the emergent profession and its incipient institutions.

There was something of a paradox to this development in the context of contemporary trends in British political economy - in particular, the growing hegemony of laissez-faire ideology. This paradox is explored here and it is argued that the dependence on public demand, in the context of the political consequences of the ascendacy of laissez-faire, was a major cause of professional problems and tensions in early British veterinary history. These features became especially apparent after 1815 and underlay a continuing degree of professional backwardness by comparison to the rest of Western Europe.

W.J. Mulder and A.P. Wijgergangs

The obstetrical instrumentation for bovines

Only those instruments used for the delivery of a living calf are considered here. The various types of forceps in the collection of the Utrecht Veterinary Museum are described. These forceps were designed in the first half of the 19th century. Before that time only levers were used for difficult deliveries. The first forceps described in Dutch veterinary literature (Erismann, 1793; Le Franc van Berkhey, 1808; Numan, 1819) had simple straight parallel blades resembling the instrument that Jan Palfijn (1650-1730) of Ghent developed for use in humans. Two types, resp. 69 and 93 cm in length and 2,6 and 4,8 kg in weight, are preserved. Other models are based on the instruments of the French doctor André Levret (1703-1780) or the Scottish obstetrician William Smellie (1680-1763), the major differences lying in the construction of the locks, and, of course, in their shape. As all these instruments were very heavy and impractical, and above all not adapted to the manner in which the calf presents itself at birth, they were of very limited use. Therefore, various types of extraction instruments were developed (machines of Bargeboer, of Baron or of Rancy). As accidents occurred due to the great tractive force of these machines, their use was prohibited. Nowadays, only the use of the parturition jack, if constructed according to strict regulations, is permitted.

J. A. Renkema

Dutch livestock industry since World War II in economical-historical perspective

The developments in livestock industry were mostly determined by the following three external factors: 1. relative degrees of shortage of means of production and products as expressed in markets and prices; 2. technological developments; 3. agricultural policy. The technological developments were without doubt the main driving forces behind the enormous adaptations of the livestock industry in the period under consideration. Due to these technological innovations the consumer in 1990 had to pay only 12-50% for several agricultural products in comparison with the prices of 1950, although labor costs increased by 382% in the same period.

The specific aspects of the dairy industry and of pig and poultry farming are described.

As it is anticipated that markets will be glutted in the near future and prices will be under constant pressure, while at the same time governments will decrease price compensations, farmers will have to concentrate on quality and diversification of their products. The fulfilment of new tasks in the field of nature or landscape conservation can bring in new forms of income to the farmers. But an overall decrease in the number of farms can be forecasted. On the other hand these farms will be on a larger scale and will probably be more specialized.