In these days of antibiotics and synthetic treatments for both human and animal ailments, the use of natural remedies has been neglected. For many years, the curative and beneficial properties of 'rural remedies' were well known and well used and undoubtedly had effects which could not be ignored. The great increase in the use of Cider Apple Vinegar by stockmen for treating Cattle and Pigs during recent years has shown that natural remedies do work and are well worth trying.
In the rural areas of Europe, the use of Cider Apple Vinegar is said to have been and still remains, a traditional treatment for many cattle ailments. Cattle, Sheep, Deer and other related animals, have a specialised digestive process upon which the health and condition of the animal depends.
McAnally and Phillipson have dealt with this matter extensively (Digestion in the Ruminant, Biological Reviews) and it might well be of interest to state the basic principles involved. Ruminants nourish themselves upon grass and similar plant life whose chief contribution is in the form of fibrous carbohydrate cellulose. The digestible nature of such plant material makes it necessary for large quantities of food to be taken in by the animal in order that its body may obtain sufficient digestible material for its needs.
The digestibility of cellulose is accomplished, not by the secretions from the glands of the animal but by bacteria which inhabit the alimentary canal and which breakdown the complex carbohydrates into readily assimilable products.
The enlarged and elaborated portions of the canal of the animal enables the passage of the ingested material to be delayed at optimum conditions of temperature, moisture and acidity for the action of the bacteria to accomplish the digestive process. The ruminants have developed for this purpose a stomach divided into four areas and normally the solid food is swallowed as grazed into the rumen where it may be retained up to several days.
It is subjected to constant churning and mixing caused by muscular contractions after which it is brought back into the mouth and thoroughly chewed before passing again to the rumen where the finer particles pass on through the omasum to the abomasum, where further digestion takes place.
The chief bacterial process achieved in the rumen is the breakdown of cellulose and carbohydrates to simple organic acids and gases. The chief of these is acetic acid which is absorbed into the blood stream, thus providing a source of energy directly from the cellulose. Protein and amino acids are synthesised and stored in the bacteria themselves which pass on and undergo further digestion in the intestine.
Vitamins can also by synthesised by the bacteria of the rumen and contribute essentially to the well being of the animal. It has been suggested that the formation of acetic acid in the rumen promotes cudding, which ensures the proper working of the digestive system and the addition of small quantities of Cider Apple Vinegar to feed provides the necessary acidity to ensure this.
Loss of appetite and cessation of cudding indicates that the rumen has ceased or slowed down its action, due perhaps to badly balanced rations or too finely ground foods. The composition of concentrates can encourage the production of substances in the rumen which retard the normal bacterial action and Cider Apple Vinegar is able to replace the naturally formed acid and so assist the normal digestive process.
Acetonaemia is a condition of accumulation of fat on the liver which results in certain breakdown products of the fat - ketones - being released into the blood stream. One of these, acetone, creates the sweet smell noticed in the cow's breath and milk that is characteristic of the condition.
Its cause is said to be an insufficiency of the right sort of substances which prevent the liver from oxidising the fat in the normal way. These substances consist essentially of sugars broken down from the cellulose in the rumen. Efficient functioning of the rumen stimulated by the addition of Cider Apple Vinegar to the feed is said to control this condition.
It appears to be associated with lack of adequate roughage and high yielders fed a below minimum ration of roughage, to enable them to consume a full concentrate ration, are often prone to digestive trouble and acetonaemia.
Some Stockmen add sugar or molasses to the feed to control this condition, but the production of natural sugars by feeding a good ration of hay, at least 3 kgs. per day for high yielders, with an acidified (Cider Apple Vinegar) concentrate is likely to be more effective.
Further interesting information regarding the uses of Cider Apple Vinegar are to be found in Dr. Jarvis's book "Folk Medicine", published in a low cost paperback by Pan Books. Available through leading booksellers.
Also Maurice Hanssen's "Complete Cider Vinegar" published by Thorsons Publishers Ltd., Wellingborough.