Fertility Farming

by Newman Turner

Chapter 21
Other Diseases

Other diseases and the natural treatment I have found to be completely effective, except where mechanical or structural defect has made a cure impossible:


To commence the treatment, the affected animal is confined without food of any kind for a period of at least seven days -- for the first and second days it is also deprived of water. If it appears to be in good condition at the end of seven days the fast is extended for a further week, allowing a limited amount of water, i.e. about one bucketful morning and night. Warm-water rectal enemas and vaginal douches are given daily during the fast, using at least four gallons of water each time for each enema, or douche. It is preferable to continue the enema each time until the water discharged is clear. The last half-gallon of water of each enema contains four crushed garlic tablets, which are retained in the intestines and uterus respectively, if possible, as long as the cow will naturally hold the water.

A dose of garlic, the whole of two chopped or flaked garlic plants twice daily, or four tablets of prepared garlic morning and night, are given during the fast. To this is added a drench of the liquid from a bucketful of fresh raspberry leaves, or two to three ounces of dried raspberry leaves soaked, or boiled, in hot water. The garlic helps to eliminate the toxins which cause sterility, and the raspberry-leaf tea has a powerful tonic effect on the uterus and organs of reproduction.

When the fast is ended the animal is reintroduced to compost-grown green food only, such as oats and vetches, kale, or any other composted green crop available, or failing this to controlled grazing of pasture which has received a dressing of compost during the last two years. A small field with not too much growth is suitable for this, and if the growth is not too lush the cow can be turned on to it continuously.

The animal is continued on compost-grown green food only for a period of five weeks, then reintroduced to compost-grown cereals. Linseed -- mixed in the proportions of one part linseed to two parts coarsely ground compost-grown wheat (the richest source of vitamin E -- the anti-sterility vitamin) -- is given, in addition to the green food, up to a maximum of 3 lb. per animal, morning and night. After a few days of this diet the animal is returned gradually to a production ration of 4 lb. per gallon of milk produced. The production ration consists of one part ground linseed to three parts ground oats, with the addition of a little coarsely ground wheat. One dessertspoonful of seaweed powder daily provides the best natural mineral supplement.


I will not elaborate on this disease at this time, for I am still engaged on experiments in its treatment. The obvious course, in relation to tuberculosis, is to see that it does not arise, by following the health maintenance methods which are inherent in fertility farming.

But I can say at this stage that in nearly all cases of animals reacting to the tuberculin test, which often merely means that the blood-stream of the animal is in a toxic condition and not that she is tubercular, the immediate adoption of the treatment set out above for Sterility (omitting the raspberry-leaf tea) has proved effective and the animal has subsequently passed the test.

My present senior stock bull is a typical example of the many tuberculin-test reactors which have been reclaimed by this treatment. Longmoor Mogulla's Top Sergente by name, he is a most valuable pedigree Jersey whose dam won the Harold Jackson Trophy for milk and butterfat, against all breeds, and whose grandsire won supreme championships at all the main shows both in England and in Jersey. His reaction to the tuberculin test was so violent that the Ministry would not allow a re-test and insisted on the disposal of the animal. But I could not afford to lose him and after moving him to some off-land I gave him this natural treatment and restored the deficiencies which gave rise to his toxaemia by a careful diet of fresh food grown from virile soil. He was tested three times in the space of a year and showed a gradual improvement until at last he was clear. The Ministry of Agriculture veterinary surgeon then gave him two clear tests at two-monthly intervals and re-admitted him to the herd, free from disease, in which condition he has continued to do his work for the past five years, showing no further sign of reaction. He is now ten years old and still working and winning prizes.

All my work indicates that tuberculosis can be prevented and cured on food grown in properly managed soil, provided an adequate diet of mineral-rich herbs is given.


Cattle quickly lose flesh while limping about with rheumatism. It is useless to attempt to put on flesh by good feeding until the toxic matter which is causing the rheumatism has been eliminated. To feed an animal that is lame with rheumatism will only exaggerate her disability.

Similarly, external massage alone, particularly with a counter-irritant, is useless. The playing of cold water on to the affected part for ten minutes morning and night, during the treatment outlined below, will, however, help to speed the cure by stimulating the blood circulation at the point of toxic accumulation, thereby assisting the process of purification.

All food is withheld from the animal, and a fast continued for a week or until the lameness has disappeared -- whichever is the shorter. During the fast nothing whatever is given except water, and the animal is confined in a house without straw bedding. Rectal enemas are given daily during the fast, using a bucketful of warm water each time. Garlic is given morning and night at the rate of four tablets or two whole plants.

At the end of the fast the animal is introduced gradually to compost-grown green food only for a week, unless the lameness appears by that time to be quite cured, in which case a little hay is also introduced.

Thereafter, we gradually bring the cow back on to her normal diet, having regard to the fact that the feeding of manufactured concentrates is to be particularly avoided. The best production ration is made up of three parts (by weight) ground oats to one part linseed. All cereals, as with green food, are organically grown, and it is advisable always, when feeding sick animals, to choose foods grown on soil which has received good dressings of properly made compost.

Should the condition not be completely cured by one treatment, or, in the event of it recurring at a later date, this treatment is repeated periodically until the animal is completely healthy, ensuring in the intervals between treatments that the animal has an adequate supply of organically grown bulky food. Grazing, which includes a wide variety of herbs and the regular use of garlic in some form, is essential if there is any tendency to rheumatism.

Calf Scour

The immediate treatment, on the first sign of scour of any kind, is cessation of all food.

Where white scour appears in calves it is generally a result of wrong feeding, usually too high a proportion of protein in the food, or too much milk. Bacteria are quite secondary and are again nature's means of dealing with dietary abnormality.

The calf is fasted for twenty-four hours on cold water only, and if the scour then appears to have diminished the calf is re-introduced to fresh whole milk diluted with equal parts of warm water. If the calf is sucking a cow it is reintroduced to small feeds of not more than three minutes' duration four times a day, making certain the calf does not receive more than a maximum of six pints of milk during the day. Generally, with a calf that is sucking a cow, a half-gallon is sufficient, though with bucket feeding one gallon a day should be given when the calf is once more in normal health.

If the scour is still bad after a twenty-four-hour fast, the fast is continued a further day, allowing cold water only. If the scour then still persists, gentle warm-water enemas of four to eight pints twice daily are applied, reintroducing the calf to diluted milk after a maximum of two days' fasting which, with enemas, is sufficient to eliminate the scour completely.

Johnes Disease

My experience of Johnes Disease started when I was a boy on my father's farm in Yorkshire, between twenty and thirty years ago. It was the first disease of dairy cows of any significance to us and certainly the first in my experience -- and before I farmed on my own I had lived with and studied scores of Johnes Disease cases, both alive and dead. Apart from occasional difficult calvings, we had no troubles with our cattle at all. We had certainly never had any trouble which resulted in the death of the cow, as it did inevitably with every Johnes-diseased cow. We had heard of animals dying of tuberculosis, but even T.B. losses had not touched us and were apparent only on farms where cattle were seriously underfed. My father had always fed his cattle well -- as everything else on the farm, including his own family, though we were never allowed to eat until every animal on the farm had been given a meal.

My most vivid impression of this disease, as long ago as those boyhood days, was my disillusionment regarding the veterinary profession. I had till then regarded the veterinary surgeon as something of a wonder man capable almost of miracles with animals. Yet here seemed to be the simple fact of diarrhoea against which the whole veterinary profession was helpless. It seemed hard to me that this onset of diarrhoea should, in spite of anything the vet could do, always result in the slow wasting away to death for every cow that got it. I thought it hard that this attack of diarrhoea should mean certain death for the cow, whereas if I had diarrhoea it was merely a sign that my diet had been somewhat indiscreet and I'd better go easy at the table for a while.

19. The perfect winter food for all cattle. Silage from pits on Plates 11a and 14b. Goosegreen Jerseys live almost entirely on this and summer grazing. Young stock live on silage and hay or oat straw from weaning age

20a Bull in advanced state of Johne's disease. All the author's cattle had frequent contact during this bull's stay of three months at Goosegreen Farm. No case of Johne's disease has followed during four years since

20b. Longmoor Mogulla's Top Sergente. At 4 years old rejected by Ministry of Agriculture on account of T.B. Treated for nine months by Newman Turner and returned to herd. Now 10 years old and has never shown a sign of reaction or other ill-health since he returned to the herd. He has never been without a prize at many shows in all parts of the south-west, even in his ninth year

And here, of course, was my clue. For at that time manufactured cattle cakes were becoming increasingly popular and we were using a lot more than the cow's stomach was designed to digest. It is generally accepted that diarrhoea in human beings is a dietary matter, resulting in fermentation in some part of the alimentary canal. May not the same be true of cattle, I thought. And around this thought I have studied the subject of Johnes Disease ever since.

The widespread incidence of Johnes Disease coincided with the general use of manufactured cattle foods and the consequent deteriorating digestion of the animal. Far from being caused by a mysterious virus, which is the usual explanation of a trouble for which there is no obvious cause, and for which there is no orthodox cure, Johnes Disease starts with incompletely digested food remaining in the intestines and setting up fermentation which, if not eliminated quickly, breaks down the mucous membrane of the intestines, and eventually even the walls themselves. The corrugations which form on the walls of the intestine are an attempt on the part of the system naturally to localize the toxic wastes. Incomplete digestion causes in the early stages an excessive appetite, but the continued intake of food to be added to the fermenting wastes already present merely aggravates the condition, and as the fermentation develops, and inflammation of the mucous membrane sets in, loss of appetite follows and wasting begins.

The simple prevention of Johnes Disease is a diet of natural foods, and if there is no alternative to the limited feeding of concentrated prepared foods, then occasional fasting is necessary to enable the system to eliminate the residues of unnatural food which are never completely digested or absorbed by the body.

It is essential that the diet should contain a high proportion of fresh organically grown foods rich in vitamins, trace elements, and plant hormones, all of which are essential to complete digestion. It is probably the absence of these pre-requisites of good digestion from the food ingested, rather than the concentrated nature of the manufactured food itself, which is the real cause of the trouble. For it is not until the animal has had many months of unnatural food that she starts to scour -- the first sign that the digestion is impaired. The feeding of food which does not supply the vital elements necessary to healthy digestion and assimilation -- and which in any case is difficult to digest by the bovine stomach designed for bulky foods -- has a cumulative effect which the animal system eventually fails to cope with; and the cow herself at last refuses food; then, however, it is too late.

Prevention. A herd which is naturally reared from birth -- with calves suckled on cows an essential, for nothing impairs the digestion more effectively than gruels and calf cakes at an early age, though it may not become apparent until cowhood -- which is fed on organically grown bulky food, with a high proportion of fresh grass or its nearest winter equivalent, silage, tripodded hay, and kale, supplemented where necessary with herbs and organic minerals such as seaweed in some form, will never suffer from Johnes Disease. But even in a herd so managed any animal showing the first sign of digestive trouble, with scouring, should be fasted at once for at least twenty-four hours or until normal again. This will eliminate any possibility of an accumulation of the causes of intestinal fermentation or inflammation.

Treatment. If for any reason Johnes Disease has developed -- provided the mucous membrane of the intestine is still sound and there is no sign of blood in the dung -- it is possible to save the animal by keeping the whole alimentary tract free from food until it is quite clear of fermenting wastes. This may mean fasting the animal for one or two weeks, in which case daily enemas should be given with the dosage of garlic advised for sterility. After a week of complete fasting the animal may be given a gruel of powdered fenugreek seed, with the addition of powdered tree barks available from veterinary herbal firms. (See Appendix.)

A two-pint gruel may be prepared by using a dessertspoonful of fenugreek powder and a dessertspoonful of tree barks blend stirred into a smooth paste, with an equal quantity of cane molasses, then diluted with warm water or milk.

This will form a soothing jelly-like gruel which will act as an internal poultice and assist the healing of the alimentary tract, and at the same time provide an easily digested nutritive food.

The animal will live for weeks on this gruel, but after a week some solid green food may be tried if the dung appears to be of normal consistency. If the dung from this solid food continues to be passed in normal condition, the animal may be assumed to be cured and the quantity of green food then gradually increased to normal. If diarrhoea again results, then the fast on gruel should be continued for a further week -- and so on, until the animal is found to be able to deal with solid food.

The garlic should be continued daily indefinitely, as an assistance to the elimination of mucus and the general purification of the blood-stream.

If animals are being properly fed and managed, there need be no fear of the infection of others. This I have demonstrated with my own cattle. When I addressed a large agricultural discussion group, at Bures in Suffolk, some years ago, an old Jersey breeder had the time of his life, in the front row, trying to tie me in knots, and challenged me to prove the effectiveness of my methods in disease prevention and resistance by allowing my cattle to have contact with a case of Johnes Disease. He was prepared to accept my claims for other diseases -- but could not believe that this dreaded mystery disease could be resisted even by the healthiest of animals.

I answered that if anyone could produce an advanced case of Johnes I would take it on to my farm. No one accepted the challenge, but I eventually found a bull which proved to be suffering from Johnes Disease and, as the photograph shows, he was in an advanced condition and eventually died on the farm. Every animal on the farm had frequent contact with him. This was four years ago -- and I have had no evidence of any trouble, certainly not Johnes Disease, which could be attributed to the bull.

Blown or Bloat or Hoven

The condition known as Blown, which is the subject of so much conjecture in the orthodox veterinary profession, is another of the problems which fertility farming has solved.

Blown, which is also known as bloat or hoven, is the condition in which gases collect in the first stomach of the cow, and if not stopped may cause distension of the stomach to the extent of asphyxiation and death.

The trouble is generally at its most prevalent during early spring or summer when the cattle first go to graze lush leys or pastures, and the orthodox explanation is that an excessive ingestion of green food, particularly clover, is the cause. But all curative and preventative measures which have worked on this assumption have so far failed.

Though clover is an important factor, it is I believe, a secondary factor. It is not necessary for the cow to overeat to become blown. The danger is from the production of gases in the stomach and not from gorging. A cow will normally stop eating when her stomach is full. I have investigated internally many animals which have died from this trouble, and find that in practically every case there has been some undigested stale concentrate food present in the stomach; and though only a minute quantity, it has been sufficient, in combination with the clover, to start fermentation and the rapid production of gases. Most of the blown victims I have examined have been comparatively heavy milkers, consuming large quantities of production ration -- unnatural food which is not only difficult to digest but lacks the vitamins and minerals which aid digestion. It has been found that the production ration is rarely completely digested until a long spell of spring grazing has provided the necessary digestive tone to enable it to clear up arrears in the stomach. The result is that during the early part of the summer, while undigested food still remains in the system, the risk of blown is great. As the summer advances, the risk becomes progressively less, not because the cow eats less clover or eats less quickly, but because the accumulations of the winter have been disposed of, and nothing remains to set up fermentation. Later in the summer and early in the autumn the danger increases again as the concentrated production ration is increased and digestion becomes more difficult.

Prevention. If, before the cow is put to grass, the stomach is completely emptied of stale food, there will be nothing to cause fermentation. Fast the cows for twenty-four hours, especially if there is a known tendency to blowing, and if you can get hold of some charcoal, in pieces about the size of a sixpence, or in tablet form, give four to six pieces to each animal. Charcoal is a wonderful thing for absorbing stomach gases and preventing fermentation.

The long-term prevention, which I have found to have a most remarkable effect in eliminating blowing in my own herd, is to see that all the pastures contain a high proportion of herbs and deep-rooting grasses. Late flowering or broad red clovers should be kept to a minimum, not more than a total of 3 lb. per acre, where blowing is feared. The herbal ley has a remarkable effect in providing the minerals essential to efficient digestion, and also the coarser grazing which suits the stomach of the cow. Divide the leys into paddocks and graze the cows continuously at the rate of ten or twelve to the acre rather than 'on and off'.

Treatment. When a cow becomes blown the immediate treatment, after confining her without food, is to give a pint of linseed oil and, if you have them, four charcoal tablets, repeating them every half-hour until the trouble has gone. Keep the animal on the move to assist the movement of gas and to prevent her from lying down.

Where the distension of the stomach is causing obvious discomfort and appears likely to increase, the stomach should at once be pierced with a trocar and canula or, if this instrument is not available, an ordinary pen-knife. The point at which to pierce should be the highest point of the distended stomach, midway between the last rib and the hip-bone -- approximately a hand-span from each to the highest point of distension. Jab the knife or instrument sharply in to its full extent and move it about to ease the passage of gas.

Another means of getting gases to move is to make a twisted rope of hay or straw and put it as far as possible down the back of the cow's mouth. Some of her own dung thrust into the cow's mouth will encourage her to chew in an attempt to be rid of it, and this, in addition to the rope down the throat, will encourage the escape of gases. Additionally, insert a rubber tube -- the thin milk tube of a milking machine is ideal -- into the anus as far as possible and keep this moving to assist the escape of gas and dung from the rear end.

Once an animal has been blown she must have at least a twenty-four-hour fast before she is put to grass again. A large quantity of charcoal in some form will help to clear up remaining gases and fermenting foods during the fast.

Milk Fever

Because Jersey cattle appear to be particularly prone to milk fever I have, perforce, been compelled to give much thought and experiment to this trouble.

Milk fever, or parturient apoplexy, though not strictly a fever, for there is rarely a high temperature, is commonly known as 'drop after calving'. The symptoms are a restlessness, at any time from a few hours after calving up to four weeks or so after calving, in which the cow starts by raising first one hind leg and then the other in a paddling fashion and eventually collapses. She lies down and repeatedly turns her head back to her ribs. As the condition develops she will throw her head and the whole of her body back to the ground and may reach the stage of a coma, when, if not attended to, she will die.

Perhaps more than any other disease it is the obvious result of over-exploitation of the cow. It is rarely found in poor milking cows and beef cattle, being confined almost entirely to dairy breeds and the heavier milking animals of those breeds. Further support of this theory is the fact that heifers never succumb to milk fever, and it is not until the cow has suffered two or three lactations of exploitation that she suffers. The third calving is usually the earliest time for milk fever.

It is caused by the strain on the system of the double stimulus of parturition and high-protein feeding on the flow of milk. With a heavy milking cow the stimulus of calving on the flow of milk is already great. To add the additional stimulus of high feeding is too much for the cow, the flush of milk is so sudden, and drains the blood-stream and the ductless glands of all the requirements of milk production -- various minerals, calcium and hormones, that the rest of the body almost ceases to function and the cow collapses.

Prevention. Knowing that the cause is over-stimulation of the milk secretion, the prevention is simple and obvious -- to reduce in all cases and to cut out completely, in cows known to have a tendency to milk fever, all foods likely to stimulate the flow of milk two weeks before calving. Feed in the ration during pregnancy a mineral-rich supplement which will build up the mineral reserves of the blood-stream and the supply of hormones, and in general bring the whole metabolism of the body to a high pitch of efficiency. The danger in high feeding is not so much the overfeeding of the animal as the inefficiency of the cow's metabolism to cope with the diet. A diet rich in minerals and plant hormones is known to be beneficial to the animal metabolism. This may be achieved by the use of seaweed on the land and in the diet. Channel Island cattle are particularly prone to milk fever away from the Channel Islands, and the obvious explanation is the change from a soil heavily dressed with seaweed, from which the cow derives the requirements of a highly efficient metabolism (this, I think, also explains the higher fat and solids content of milk in the Channel Islands), to soils which never get even as much as a smell of the sea, and in most cases precious little organic matter of any kind.

In addition to the use of seaweed, wherever possible, organic manuring and the use of deep-rooting herbs in the pastures will contribute greatly to improved metabolism and the prevention of milk fever.

Treatment. Having fed the cow to the point of milk fever, or having bought one just after someone else has 'steamed-up' and she goes down with milk fever, it is too late to be certain that seaweed powder will act quickly enough, though there is no doubt it will help. So milk out the udder and inflate it with the apparatus which you should have had in readiness beforehand and which is available from veterinary equipment suppliers.

The equipment consists of a teat syphon and filter chamber which filters the air which is blown through it into each quarter through the teat after the udder has been thoroughly washed and milked out. The effect of this inflation of the udder is to prevent any further flow of milk into the udder and stop the drain of hormones and minerals from the blood-stream to the udder. This enables the cow's system to adjust itself slowly to the demands which heavy milk production are putting upon it. The cow should also have a dose of two tablespoonfuls of seaweed powder in molasses and warm water (two tablespoonfuls of molasses), every three hours, until she is up and walking about again. Into this mixture should be added four leaf-plasma tablets each time, to supply the vital tonic elements of grasses and herbs without the protein stimulant.

It is essential that the cow be kept propped up in the normal sitting position with bales of straw. On no account allow her to stretch out on her side. Then, if she appears to be slowly improving, don't rush her to get up. She may, and quite understandably too, need a few hours' rest.

Grass Tetany is a more recent and more acute form of milk fever, and though it has been given a new name it has all the same symptoms and causes as milk fever, i.e. over-stimulation of milk secretion by the excessive protein of a rich clover ley, especially on top of the use of high-protein cattle cake. But because it is far quicker in its action, and results in death often before there has been an opportunity to treat the cow, it has been regarded as a separate disease. It may, however, be prevented in exactly the same way as milk fever, and the treatment is the same, should you be fortunate enough to catch the cow while she is still alive.

21a. Polden Dolly Daydream (left), winner of Royal Cornwall Show Milk and Butter Trials (see page 188) and Whitehall Roselaird, winner of many prizes and yielded 1,000 gallons with her first and second calves on home-grown food

21b. Goosegreen senior stock bull, Top Sergente, at 8 years old, leads the Grand Parade of Jerseys as first-prize winner -- Dorchester Show 1949. (See Plate 20b)

22. A convenient way of handling cattle, also adaptable as a service crate, used at Goosegreen Farm

Next: 22. Observations on the Behaviour of Cows with some Possible Explanations

Back to Contents

Back to Small Farms Library index

Community development | Rural development
City farms | Organic gardening | Composting | Small farms | Biofuel | Solar box cookers
Trees, soil and water | Seeds of the world | Appropriate technology | Project vehicles

Home | What people are saying about us | About Handmade Projects 
Projects | Internet | Schools projects | Sitemap | Site Search | Donations | Contact us