How to manage wounds and fractures

A wound is a break in the skin, usually caused by a sharp object. Wounds are caused accidentally or by parasites and other animals (e.g. fights and bites). When left untreated, the exposed tissues may become infected.

Treating a wound involves the following steps:

  1. Stop any bleeding.
  2. Clip hair or wool way from the edges of the wound.
  3. Remove all foreign objects. Wash the wound thoroughly with plenty of clean water (the water should have been boiled, cooled and salt or a mild antiseptic added).
  4. Dry the wound with a clean cloth.
  5. Put a wound dressing or antibiotic powder on the wound.
  6. When there are a lot of flies about, use a wound dressing that repels flies or kills fly eggs and larvae.
  7. Encourage wounds to drain and pus to come out by pressure and incision if necessary.
  8. If the wound does not heal, becomes black and smells bad, the dead flesh must be cut away. Wash the wound with antiseptic and treat with antibiotic powder.

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Fractures (usually to the legs) result from falling into holes, falling over heavy farm implements or jumping over fences. For large, heavy animals or fractures where the bone breaks high up in the leg it is better to slaughter the animal for meat. For young and light animals:

  • Keep the animal quiet and stop it from moving around.
  • Stop any bleeding.
  • If the bone has come through the skin, clean the wound and give local anaesthesia by injection.
  • Arrange the leg so that the broken ends of the bone touch in their normal positions as far as possible.
  • Tie a piece of wood (a splint) to the leg to keep the bones in position.
  • Confine the animal to reduce movement during the healing period.

Splints can be also made by dipping strips of cloth in mud and egg white and wrapping around the leg. Cover with a strip of tree bark and a fresh goatskin. As it dries, the splint will harden and shrink, holding the broken bones together. Check every day that the fixing is not too tight. If the leg below the splint is cold or very swollen, loosen the fixing and then tighten again carefully, keeping the leg in the same position. Leave the splint on for at least 10 –14 days for a young animal or 21–28 days for an adult animal. 

Disposing of waste and carcasses

Before handling a carcass, consider the diseases that can be passed to humans (anthrax, brucellosis, rabies, ringworm and mange are the most common ones). If the animal died unexpectedly, a post-mortem will reveal the cause of death and guide the means of disposal. Post-mortems should be performed by qualified veterinarian.

If anthrax is suspected the carcass should be burned and no post-mortem should be carried out.

How to burn a carcass

  1. Dig two trenches (2 m long, 40 cm wide and 40 cm deep) in the form of a cross. The trenches will provide oxygen to the fire.
  2. Place two iron bars so they lie across one of the trenches.
  3. Place strong wooden posts across the bars.
  4. Place the carcass and a heap of fuel (wood and straw soaked in waste oil) on the wooden posts.
  5. Light the fire and burn the carcass.

Disposal by burying

  1. Dig a hole 2 m long by 1.5 m wide and 2 m deep.
  2. Put the carcass in the hole and cover with soil and logs or large stones to stop wild animals or dogs digging it up again.

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