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SIXTEENTH ANNUAL REPORT
BOARD OF AGRICULTURE.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Common
wealth of Massachusetts.
The past season has been one of peculiar characteristics. A long and severe winter, during which the ground was generally well covered with snow, and the temperature more than usually uniform, was followed by a wet and somewhat backward spring, a bot, dry and short summer, and an autumn of constant moisture, with early frost. The rainfall of September exceeded thirteen inches, and the snow and freezing cold came so early in November as to endanger the late harvested root and fruit crops.
With these general and well marked meteorological features, the season has been one of more than ordinary prosperity to the farming interests of the Commonwealth. Many of the crops of the farm, the orchard and the garden, like Indian corn, hay and fruit, were abundant and fine in quality; and though farm labor tlıroughout the fall was greatly interrupted by the constant rains, the results of farming operations must, on the whole, be regarded with general satisfaction. The aggregate farm products of the State for the year exceed forty millions of dollars.
The stock of the farm has been healthy, with the exception of a temporary visitation of the Texas cattle fever, which was
brought into our markets by the arrival of cattle from the West. It was of short duration, owing to the strenuous and prompt efforts of the executive to check its progress by the appointment of a commission charged with the duty of controlling it. The steps taken by that commission will be more clearly set forth in the following
REPORT OF THE CATTLE COMMISSIONERS.
monwealth of Massachusetts.
No contagious disease has scourged the cattle of the Commonwealth during the year past. The pleuro-pneumonia, so judiciously stamped out three years since, has not again made its appearance in our herds, though it is said to prevail to some extent in the Middle States. The cattle-growing States of the West have the past year been visited by a comparatively new and very alarming disease in their herds, known as Spanish fever, or Texas cattle fever, in consequence of its having been introduced by cattle from Texas, and which has proved alarmingly destructive to the neat stock of some sections. By the transportation of beef cattle, this plague has spread through nearly all the States to the seaboard, creating panic and fear in its progress. The State of New York, along its great lines of travel, and near its principal large cattle markets, became infested with it to such an extent, that State and municipal authority was resorted to, to protect their home stock and prevent the sale of unwholesome beef in their markets. About the 10th of August last, a cattle train was despatched from the cattle-yards of Albany with many diseased cattle on board for sale in the markets of our State. A portion of these diseased cattle were sold in Worcester, and went to Providence. The remainder went on to Brighton. A part, on arriving at Brighton, were sold to Mr. William H. Alger, and by him conveyed to Taunton. The remainder, it is reported, though very much diseased, were immediately slaughtered in the night, and their meat sold in the markets of Boston the following day. These facts being reported to the Commissioners, it was deemed advisable to resort
at once to the most stringent measures the law would allow, to prevent the introduction of such diseased cattle into the State, and thus to protect our home stock from the supposed contagion, and our markets from the sale of unwholesome beef. Accordingly, on the 14th of August, instructions were issued to the town authorities of West Stockbridge, Williamstown, Northfield and Winchendon, the points where the railroads that would be likely to transport such cattle enter the State, directing them to use all legal means to prevent the passage of all diseased cattle over the State line, to examine all cattle trains, and to remove all diseased cattle, and put them into quarantine. Letters were also sent to the selectmen of Brighton and Cambridge, warning them of the danger, and asking their co-operation, to protect their cattle-yards and markets from the impending plague. The selectmen of the different towns acted promptly in the matter, and in unison with the managers of the different railroads. The selectmen of Brighton, especially, exercised their powers and discharged their duty with most commendable promptness and efficiency. On the 18th of August, they pub ' lished a series of regulations, which proved effectual in keeping the disease from their neighborhood. As Albany was the principal source from which their market was supplied with stock, it was the chief point of danger. Two agents were therefore appointed, “ to proceed forthwith to Albany, and there examine, and make all possible inquiry in regard to all the cattle about to be shipped to Brighton.” Those agents proceeded to Albany, and perfected such arrangements that the agents of the Boston and Albany Railroad Corporation would receive no cattle on their trains but such as had been examined by the Brighton agents, pronounced healthy, and whose owner had a written permit from these agents for their shipment. Other regulations were provided, by which no cattle which had been transported from beyond the State line, should be unloaded or received into the cattle-yards of Brighton, until they had been examined by a board of examiners appointed for that purpose, and pronounced free of disease. No cattle were allowed to be slaughtered after six o'clock, P. M. All butchers were required to preserve the liver, spleen and bladder of the beeves they slaughtered, and were not allowed to sell their beef until those organs had been examined by the proper officer and declared healthy.
On the 20th of August, one of the Commissioners, in company with the selectmen of West Stockbridge, visited Albany, to examine into the nature and extent of the disease prevalent there, and, if need be, to perfect the arrangements to prevent its being brought over our border. The agents of Brighton, Messrs. H. W. Jordan and A. N. Munroe, were found there hard at work, and successfully accomplishing the object of their mission, though the cattle-yards were well stocked with diseased and dying cattle, and there were strong importunities on the part of cattle owners to be allowed to transport their property beyond the limits of the disease. Every facility was afforded us by the authorities in charge of the district to get information respecting the disease, and several animals in different stages of its progress were slaughtered, that an opportunity might be afforded us for an examination. Without giving a strictly pathological description of the disease, we deem it not unimportant in this connection to state, in a general way, the appearance of the discased animals, both before and after death. As a general rule, the first symptoms of the disease were a loss of appetite, and desire for isolation or separation from the rest of the herd. The animal soon showed indications of pain and fever, stood with all four feet drawn together under the body, inclined to lie down and get up often, occasionally stretching and turning the muzzle to the side, eyes looking wild, coat staring, horns cold. The urinous discharges of most were of a bloody color, though this discharge in many cases appeared natural and healthy. The fæces were of a slimy or mucous character, and passed with difficulty, and the mouth and tongue inclined to be hot and dry. On being slaughtered, we noticed that the blood of the animals was very thin and watery, and would not color the land when dipped into it, and apparently without coagulating properties. The surface of all internal viscera, the brain, and the white of the eye, was of a pale yellow color. The organs of the chest appeared healthy, but it was otherwise with those of the abdo
The milts, or spleen, in erery case, were three or four times as large as in a healthy animal, and its texture soft and granulated, the kidneys dry and lifeless, the bladder inflamed and distended with a collection of bloody colored water, and in most cases the liver very much enlarged, and the gall bladder contracted and filled with a gelatinous substance. No informa
tion was obtained in relation to the treatment or cure of the disease; in fact, so far as we could ascertain, no efforts were being made to that end, or experiments tried of a curative character. The sick animals were confined to hospital grounds, and when the disease was far advanced, were slaughtered and disposed of. The regulations to prevent the introduction of cattle infected with this disease were so effectual that it is believed none were brought into the State except those first mentioned, and part of which were slaughtered in Brighton immediately after their arrival. Those purchased by Mr. Alger, five in number, were placed in a car with two northern cattle purchased at the same time, on Wednesday, August 12, and conveyed to Taunton. The cattle were yarded together until the following Saturday, when it was discovered that the western cattle were sick, and it was decided best that they should not be slaughtered for beef. On Monday of the following week, their condition was such that the attention of the city board of health was called to the case, who ordered the five western cattle to be slaughtered and disposed of as offal. The two northern animals that had been in contact with the diseased cattle from Wednesday until Monday were isolated, and kept in quarantine until the 16th of September, when they were examined by the city physician and pronounced perfectly healthy, and were slaughtered and sold as beef. The cattle of this diseased importation that went to Providence, about sixty in number, were many of them found to be in such bad condition when they arrived at their destination that they were ordered by the authorities to be killed. Others, though evidently diseased, were kept in quarantine under the care and attention of Dr. E. M. Stone, city physician, who reports, after three months, that they had recorered, and were apparently perfectly healthy. With the coming of the first hard frosts of autumn, the plague has entirely ceased in the States at the West, and there is no present danger of its introduction to the herds of the Commonwealth, though with the advent of the warm season fears are entertained that it will break out afresh, unless Texas cattle are kept entirely aloof from the cattle of the western and northern States. Respectfully submitted for the commissioners,
LEVI STOCKBRIDGE. JANUARY 1, 1869.