Mites in Goats

Mites in goats, when left untreated, can get pretty ugly pretty quickly.  In just a short time, mites will affect milk production, comfort and stress levels for your goats, and in extreme cases can even cause death.  All this will in turn affect the profitability of your goats as well.

So, deal with it. Get it treated, the sooner the better. 

What are mites?

Mites in goats (also known as acariasis, scabies, mange) are extremely contagious, successful parasites that can exploit your goats horrifically, if left untreated.  Mites will infect the skin, and sometimes will even enter the body cavity, respiratory passages or internal tissues and organs. 

Good news is, mites are easily treatable.

There are three main types of mites that occur, which can be burrowing or non-burrowing.  

  1. Psoroptic Mange  (non-burrowing).
    Also known as ear mange, Psoroptic mange is caused ) in goats and sheep is caused by P cuniculi, which is likely a variant of P ovis.  P cuniculi  typically infests the ears of goats, but can spread to the head, neck, and body.  Infestation can be common, with 80-90% of a herd infested. Disease can range from subclinical to scaling, crusting, inflammation, alopecia (baldness), ear scratching, head shaking, and rubbing of ears to alleviate irritation. 
  2. Chorioptes mites (non-burrowing)
    Infestation of chorioptic scab mites, Chorioptes bovis in goats is fairly common, with most of a herd infested. Papules and crusts can be seen on the feet and legs.  Most animals do not show signs of infestation or discomfort, even at high densities.   C bovis can cause exudative dermatitis on the lower legs and scrota of bucks (scrotal mange). Semen quality may be affected, presumably due to increased temperature of infested scrota.  
  3. Sarcoptic mites (burrow into the skin)
    The scabies mite (Sarcoptes scabiei) in its developmental stages, lives in burrows formed by the adult female.  Detecting mites and burrows in infected animals is very difficult; infection is determined by the clinical signs.  The chances of having an outbreak are more common in the winter months and are transmitted by direct contact.
  4. Goat Follicle Mites (Demodectic Mange, Ovine Demodicosis, Caprine Demodicosis, D caprae) is relatively common in goats.  Nonpruritic papules and nodules develop (see image below), especially over the face, neck, shoulders, and sides or udder. 

The nodules contain a thick, waxy, grayish material that can be easily expressed; mites can be found in this exudate. The disease can become chronic.

How is it transferred? Who is most susceptible?

It is transferred to newborns by parental licking, and is passed through contact with other animals.

Cases of mange occur most commonly in young animals, pregnant does, and dairy goats. Certain breeds (e.g. Saanen) tend to be more sensitive than others. 

Treatment of Mites in Goats

Confirmed infestation of mites in goats requires quarantine and proper control measures.  Treatment should be administered to entire herd, including guard animals, not only to animals with obvious signs of infestation. 

Non-lactating animals: inject with Ivermectin subcutaneously.  Be careful to observe withdrawal periods for both meat and milk. 

Lactating animals can be treated with a pour-on containing Permethrin, such as Boss Pour-On, available on Amazon.  Repeat treatment as needed, but not more than once every 2 weeks. Contact your vet to confirm that these treatment options are appropriate in your situation.

References:

1. Mange in Sheep and Goats. Mason V. Reichard, PhD, Associate Professor, Oklahoma State University and Jennifer E. Thomas, DVM, Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University. Merck Vet Manual.

2. External Parasites of Goats. Justin Talley, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. Oklahoma State University

3. Mites.  Livestock Veterinary Entomology. Texas A&M Agrilife Extension

4. Mites. Karen Christenson.  Blog: The Biology of the Goat. 

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