87 (4) pp 237

A veterinary manuscript dated 1880, composed and used by a family of mainly lay therapists

A manuscript on veterinary knowledge and skills as practiced by laymen in previous centuries isdescribed, using a copy dated 1880 but with parts that are probably older. It was made and owned bymembers of the Bouckaert family from Waregem, who were well known in the veterinary practiceand horsemanship circles of that time. Some of them were among the first official veterinary surgeonsand certified ‘farrier-veterinarians’ (maréchaux-vétérinaires) in Belgium during the nineteenth century.During successive generations, the older family fathers were also involved in the treatment of humans,while the care of animals was left to the sons. The very orderly presented contents of the manuscriptshow a curious mixture of veterinary science, as contained in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century textbooks,intermixed with folk remedies, including oaths and semi-religious vows. Particular attentionis given to pigeon diseases. A separate chapter contains succinct descriptions of some greatly fearedcontagious animal diseases, which were the domain of university trained veterinary ‘experts’. A textfragment on canine distemper is given as an example of accurate description of symptoms, with warningson prognosis and futile treatment attempts.

Full text: 
pp 237-239
Veterinary past