Very few ethnoveterinary surveys have been conducted in central Europe. However, traditional knowledge on the use of medicinal plants might be an option for future concepts in treatment of livestock diseases. Therefore the aim of this study was to document and analyse the traditional knowledge and use of homemade herbal remedies for livestock by farmers in four Swiss cantons.
Research was conducted in 2012. Fifty farmers on 38 farms were interviewed with the aid of semistructured interviews. Detailed information about the plants used and their mode of preparation were documented as well as dosage, route of administration, category of use, origin of knowledge, frequency of use, and satisfaction with the treatment.
In total, 490 homemade remedies were collected. Out of these, 315 homemade remedies contained only one plant species (homemade single species herbal remedies, HSHR), which are presented in this paper. Seventy six species from 44 botanical families were mentioned. The most HSHR were quoted for the families of Asteraceae, Polygonaceae and Urticaceae. The plant species with the highest number of HSHRs were Matricaria recutita L., Calendula officinalis L., Rumex obtusifolius L. and Urtica dioica L. For each HSHR, one to eight different applications were enumerated. A total of 428 applications were documented, the majority of which were used to treat cattle. The main applications were in treatment of skin afflictions and sores, followed by gastrointestinal disorders and metabolic dysfunctions. Topical administration was most frequently used, followed by oral administration. In nearly half of the cases the knowledge on preparing and using herbal remedies was from forefathers and relatives. More than one third of the applications were used more than ten times during the last five years, and in about sixty percent of the cases, the last application was during the last year preceding the interviews.
Traditional knowledge of farmers about the use of medicinal plants to treat livestock exists in north-eastern Switzerland. Homemade herbal remedies based on this knowledge are being used. The interviewed farmers were satisfied with the outcome of the applications.