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close this bookEthnoveterinary Medicine in Asia - General Information (IIRR, 1994, 145 p.)
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View the documentCommon units of measurement
View the documentEstimating live weight
View the documentSimple surgical techniques
View the documentTreating castration wounds
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View the documentGlossary of medicinal plants
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Simple surgical techniques


A fracture is a crack or a break in a bone. Fractures are caused by accidents or falls. If a fracture is not treated immediately, the affected area may not regain its normal function.




· Swelling at the site of fracture which does not subside.
· The fracture site is painful.
· You can hear a crackling sound when you touch or move the fracture.
· The animal has difficulty using the affected area.

The fracture site is painful


· Avoid accidents or falls of your livestock while using draft animals or when sending them out to graze in hilly areas.

· Take extra care with pregnant animals. Their bones are much weaker than other animals'.


To treat pain

Boil 4-7 tablespoons of fresh, mature roots of Mimosa pudica (sensitive plant) in 500 ml of water for 10 minutes. For adult cattle and buffaloes, drench this amount of the liquid once a day for 3 days. Caution: prolonged use of Mimosa pudica can be dangerous.

For minor fractures and cracks in the bone

Grind a handful of fresh Symphytum officinale (comfrey) leaves and use as a poultice. Change the poultice once a day for 1 week until the animal regains the use of its limb.

For more serious fractures

Follow these steps:

1 Put the animal in a comfortable position.

2 Boil 1 kg of fresh leaves of Cissampelos pareira in 1 liter of water for half an hour. Drench adult cattle and buffaloes with 200 ml of the decoction (give 100 ml to calves, goats or sheep). This will relax the animal's muscles an hour after drinking.

3 Position animal carefully and comfortably, with the affected area facing upwards.

4 Using a rope, straighten the affected limb and align the bones. Be careful not to hurt the animal.

5 Shave the hair and clean the affected area with clean water.

6 Pour vegetable oil on newspaper. Wrap several layers of newspaper around the joint as a cast to keep the joint from moving. This helps reduce the swelling slightly. Leave on for one day.

7 The next day, remove the newspaper. Tie a clean cloth around the area to cover the fracture and protect the skin.

Wrap several layers of newspaper

8 Position splints to keep the joint from moving. Normally, four splints are needed around the leg.

Four splints are needed around the leg.

9 Dip strips of clean cloth in one of the plaster mixtures (see box) and bandage firmly around the limb. The bandage must not be too tight; you should be able to insert your finger under it.

The bandage must not be too tight

10 Leave the cast on for 710 days in young animals. Depending on the type of the fracture, it may take 3-4 weeks in adult animals before the cast can be removed.

Depending on the type of the fracture

How to make plaster

Use one of the following mixtures to make plaster. Make enough of the mixture to cover the fracture site. Dip strips of cloth in this mixture.

· Grind 2 bricks and mix with a sufficient quantity of egg white to make a smooth plaster. (Western India. 1, 2, 3, 4)

· Mix 10 egg whites, 3 teaspoons of latex from Euphorbia neriifolia and 2 teaspoons of red oxide of mercury. (Western India. 1, 2, 3, 4)

· Grind a handful of Tamarindus indica (tamarind) leaves and mix it with anthill mud. Add a little water to make a fine paste. (Western India. 1, 2, 3, 4)

· Mix equal amounts of fresh goat milk, fresh goat droppings (from a goat stall), ash and egg whites. (Western India. 1, 2, 3, 4)


Splints support fractures and prevent the broken bone from moving. Splints must be made of stiff but light material, such as bamboo, the stalk of coconut or palmyra palm leaves, or the bark of Areca catechu.

After treating the fracture

The bone takes approximately 3-6 weeks to heal, depending on the age of the animal and its health. Bones of young animals heal faster. Too much movement of the affected part will delay healing.

· Allow the animal to rest.
· Give the animal easily digestible and nutritious feed.
· Add a handful of ground limestone, chalk or eggshells to every 10 kg of feed.
· If the cast falls off, replace it immediately with a fresh one.

Bone fractures in very large ruminants are difficult to treat. This is especially true for fractures in the upper limbs. Such animals may develop sores. In this case, consult a professional (a local expert, respected healer or veterinarian).

Working animals may never regain the full use of the affected part. They may not be able to pull heavy carts or plows. In most cases, it will be most practical to sell or slaughter the animal.


Warts are small, solid growths on the surface of skin. Warts on the tongue can interfere with eating. Warts around the nostrils block the breathing passage. Warts on the teats make milking painful for the animal. Warts on the penis hinder the passage of urine.




Remove the wart using any of the following:

· Tie a thread or 3-4 strands of horse hair tightly around the wart. This will cut off the blood supply to the wart. It will shrink, dry up and eventually fall off. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

· Apply 1 or several drops of latex of Euphorbia neriifolia or the latex from a papaya trunk, fruit or leaves on the wart. The amount of latex depends on the size of the wart. Apply twice a day until the wart falls off. (1, 2, 3, 4)

· Crush 2-3 fresh leaves and petals of a single flower of Calendula officinalis (calendula). Extract the juice and apply at least 3 drops on the wart twice a day until the wart falls off. The amount of juice depends on the size of the wart. (1, 2, 3, 4)

· Tie an entire Piper belle (betel) leaf over the wart like a bandage. Use a string to keep the leaf in place. Change the bandage twice a day until the wart falls off. Also used to treat abscesses (see below). (1, 2, 3, 4)

· Mix 2-3 crystals of copper sulfate with a drop of water. Apply on the wart using a matchstick. Caution: Copper sulfate is strong enough to burn your fingers. (1, 2, 3, 4)

· Squeeze 1-2 cloves of garlic directly onto the wart. Do this once a day till the wart falls off. (1, 2, 3, 4)




An abscess is a rounded, hot, painful swelling full of pus. A single or many abscesses may be found on the body.


Abscesses may have various causes, including infected wounds, irritants on the skin and internal disease. They may also be caused by using dirty instruments, syringes or needles. If the animal has fever as well as abscesses, it may have an infectious disease (see Infectious diseases in species-specific manuals). Infected matter from an abscess which falls on open wounds may cause more abscesses, severe pain and swelling.


· Keep the animal clean and well-fed.
· Clean and sterilize syringes, knives and other instruments before using them on animals.
· Clean wounds properly (see Wounds in species-specific manuals).


Use any of the treatments below twice a day until the abscess has dried up. If the animal has fever, see also Fever in species-specific manuals. If the abscess does not subside, or if there are other symptoms, check the section on Infectious diseases and other sections. Consider getting help from a professional.

· Grind a handful of fresh neem leaves to make a paste. Apply it on the affected area as a poultice.

· Grind a handful of Odina wadder (sesharam) leaves and mix with half this amount of vegetable oil. Apply it on the abscess.

· Tie a Piper betle (betel) leaf over the abscess to drain it (see Warts on page 40).

· Make a paste from 5 teaspoons of turmeric rhizome powder and 5 teaspoons of water. Apply on the abscess.

· Rub a block of Pterocarpus santalinus (red sanderswood) against a rough stone to make a powder. Make a paste from 5 teaspoons of this powder with 5 teaspoons of water and apply on the affected area.

· Mix equal amounts of salt and water and pour on the abscess.

· Mix equal amounts of slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) and water. Mix this with an equal amount of lemon juice and apply on the abscess.

· Crush 10-20 fresh Mentha piperita or M. cordifolia opiz (mint) leaves and apply on top of the abscess as a poultice.

· Boil 1 part of young, chopped leaves of Spondias pinnate with 2 parts of clean water. Boil for 1015 minutes. Use the decoction to wash the abscess.