39 pages 1 hour read

James Herriot

All Creatures Great and Small

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 1972

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Index of Terms


Known in Yorkshire as ‘felon,’ mastitis is the inflammation of an udder, usually caused by an infection. It can cause the udder to be swollen, tense, reddened, and painful to the touch. “Summer mastitis” differs in that there is hardness in the teat but not always swelling, and foul-smelling pus is present. This form of mastitis often involves gangrene of the udder and usually results in loss of the quarter and sometimes the animal’s life.

In All Creatures Great and Small, mastitis is a common and unpleasant problem for James to treat. Though the new antibiotics help with many types of mastitis, there is no miracle cure, and losing a quarter deeply damages the value of a cow. The infections were suspected to have been spread by flies, and the local farmers used tar as a preventative measure on the cows’ udders.

Milk Fever

Milk fever, also known as hypocalcaemia and parturient paresis, is caused by a sudden drop in calcium levels. It seems to be an endocrine disorder that is related to the biological stressors of dairy farming. It usually happens around calving time, and begins with the cow in excited distress, paddling, staring, and staggering. She will then fall to the ground and go into a coma.