Argos

 

Nr. 13 (1995)

 

 

G.C. van der Weijden & A. Rozendal

The history of bovine obstetrics

Since ancient times man has assisted at the birth of domestic animals. The main developments in the field of obstetrics are described in this paper. Paintings depicting this topic have been preserved in the graves of Egyptian kings. Columella describes the embryotomy as being the last resort in order to save a mother's life in case of an abnormal position of the foetus. No clear evidence has been found for Caesarian sections in cattle earlier than the nineteenth century. In the Netherlands the `Maatschappij ter bevordering van de landbouw in Amsterdam' [Amsterdam Society for the Promotion of Agriculture] offered a prize in 1788 for the best essay on obstetrics in cattle. In 1793 a gold medal was presented to J.G. Eberhard, a silver medal to A. Erissmann and a bronze medal to P.J. van Bavegem. When evaluated with present day knowledge, it seems that the essay of Erissman had the most practical value. J. le Francq van Berkhey used these three essays in his books about cattle published in 1808. The first Caesarian section described is from M. Morange in 1813. It is remarkable that he stitched the wound of the uterus, as this was not usual for that period in man or in animals. The nominations of M.G. de Bruin in 1893 and F.C. van der Kaay in 1923 as teachers at the Veterinary School in Utrecht resulted in a particularly important development in the education and research programme in the fields of obstetrics and gynaecology. The Thygesen apparatus for performing percutaneous foetotomies, was further developed by Van der Kaay; this modification is still in use. Due to the introduction of epidural anaesthesia in 1925 and antimicrobial drugs after the second World War, the prognosis after a Caesarian section improved remarkably, both for the cow and the calf. After the war the number of Caesarian sections increased sharply. Since the appointment of C.H.W. de Bois in 1964 the practical aspects of monitoring fertility were also introduced into the Utrecht veterinary curriculum. Special attention was paid to endocrinological research and pathophysiological aspects.

 

 

J. de Vries

Veterinary Medicine in Friesland, 1850-1900

This paper is the last in a series of three that deals with the development of veterinary medicine in Friesland in the 18th and 19th century. Unfortunately, the author passed away before he could finish this article. However, since it contains valuable information the editors have nevertheless decided to publish it in the unfinished form.

In 1850 veterinary medicine in this Dutch province was practised by 14 graduate veterinary surgeons and about 50 empiricists. Despite economic growth in the agricultural sector between 1850 and 1878, particularly in dairy, cattle and meat exports, the number of veterinarians decreased to seven in 1875. The agricultural crisis which followed, and lasted from 1878 to 1895, mainly affected arable farming. This stimulated an extension of cattle breeding. Although the latter was hampered by outbreaks of pleuro-pneumonia up to 1885, the live-stock grew steadily. Between 1851 and 1862 pneumonia in cattle raged in the whole province. Losses were about one to four percent of the stock. The author describes the attempts that were made by physicians and veterinarians to stop the disease by inoculation according to the method described by the Belgian physician, L. Willems. The number of veterinarians in the province increased in the last decades of the 19th century and varied from 14 in 1880 to 23 in 1890 and 20 in 1900. Data concerning the 43 graduate veterinarians that established a practice in Friesland between 1850 and 1900 are presented. From their mobility and the fact that they had to take on extra part-time jobs to supplement thier income, it can be concluded that up to the end of the 19th century a lot of them had great difficulties to make ends meet. Due to legal protection of the veterinary profession from 1874 onwards, the number of empiricists decreased. By 1898 only three empiricists (who had passed an examination) remained.

 

 

P.A. Koolmees

Slaughtering and Meat Inspection in the Netherlands from the late Middle Ages until 1795

Changes in meat consumption patterns are caused by social and economic shifts in society. Due to low population pressure caused by famines and the plague, and the presence of abundant grassland for cattle and woodlands for pigs, a boom in meat consumption occurred in late medieval cities. Some historians claim that the annual per capita meat consumption rose to around 100 kg. After the late Middle Ages, a decline in meat consumption occurred due to restrictions on grazing land and high prices for grain. From the 16th to the 19th century, less meat was present in the diet, probably about 20-35 kg per capita. People living in the countryside had long supplied the majority of their own food. Cattle and meat markets developed in the more populated cities. With the rise of the medieval cities, local economies with division of labour and specialization developed. The farmer and the butcher met at the cattle market. Animals were slaughtered in small shambles by the butchers who had established guilds. Such meat was sold at meat markets and `meat halls' until well into the 19th century. The meat trade was monopolized by these guilds and meat prices were inflated accordingly. Local authorities tried to limit the power of the guilds, and numerous detailed decrees concerning meat trade, taxes on meat, meat inspection and meat inspectors were introduced in many cities. These decrees contain rules for the age and weight of the various slaughter animals and regulations designed to prevent the trade in unsound meat. The butchers also played a role in meat inspection; they had to inform the meat inspector as soon as they noticed any abnormality in the animal they were slaughtering. The consumption of meat from diseased animals was prohibited in many cities. Dead animals were buried, and severe punishments were mandated in case meat from such animals was sold. In practice, however, a considerable amount of meat from diseased animals was `processed' in knacker's yards and still reached the consumer. The selling of the meat was centralized, while slaughtering was usually not. From the 16th to the 19th century, the situation with private shambles and meat markets remained the same. These numerous shambles were criticized on the ground of the filth and nuisance they caused in the urban centres. Attempts were made to concentrate all slaughtering and inspection in centralized establishments under hygienic conditions. However, it would take until the beginning of the 19th century before public abattoirs on the outskirts of towns were established. The empirical meat inspection, which had been carried out by butcher guilds for several centuries, disappeared in many Dutch towns during the French occupation from 1795-1813. By the end of the 18th century there was growing concern for public health and municipal health boards drew up programmes containing the two key factors in effective meat inspection: mandatory inspection by professional veterinarians and centralized slaughter in public abattoirs. However, the progress towards effective regulation remained slow.