Can Goats Get Mange: A Complete Guide

Goats are hardy and resilient animals, but they are still vulnerable to a variety of parasites and diseases. One of the most common afflictions for farm animals is mange. But can goats even get it, and if so, what can you do about it?

Goats can indeed get mange. Mange is a consequence of a mite or lice infestation, which are common types of parasites. Mange can be treated and prevented with a variety of medications and natural solutions, but untreated cases can cause skin problems and infections.

Mange is fairly common in goats, but it’s not the end of the world. Owners have a lot of different options when it comes to treatment, but it’s important to know what you’re dealing with first. Below is a guide to identifying mange in goats, as well as ways to prevent and treat it.

Mange Source And Warning Signs

We now know that mange is a problem for goats, but what is it?

Mange is a skin condition wherein the outer layer becomes inflamed, itchy, and sore. It’s a type of dermatitis that is fairly serious and will cause extreme discomfort. Both mites and lice can cause mange in goats, but mites are the most common perpetrators.

A mite infestation is known as acariasis and the effects will usually include a noticeable outbreak of mange. A lice infestation is known as pediculosis, which may not always manifest in a mange outbreak. Itching, discomfort, and discolored/dirty fur appearances are common in both cases though.

There are different types of mites and lice, but they all feed off of the goat’s blood or skin. Some may burrow in, while others remain on the surface. Mites are the most common source of mange because they secrete a toxin that causes skin damage and inflammation.

Mites and lice can live on any part of a goat’s body, but they’re especially common in the ear area. They prefer warm and moist areas, so they will gravitate to those areas of an animal’s body. This also means that these parasites are more common during warm and wet periods of the year.

Lice and mites only live for a few days or weeks, but they constantly lay eggs on the body of their host. So even once the original population dies out, there are even more to take their place. This can make them hard to get rid of, but not impossible. Sick, old, weak, and newborn goats are particularly vulnerable to parasite infections.

There are some warning signs that could indicate that your goat has mites or lice (and mange by extension). Monitor your goats closely and be on the lookout for the following red flags:

  • Itchiness
  • Restlessness
  • Irritated/ red skin
  • Fur damage
  • Exhaustion
  • Poor growth rate/ weight loss
  • Skin damage
  • Intense scratching
  • Scaly skin around udders
  • Bald/thinning fur patches
  • Ear drainage
  • Ooze around the skin or ears
  • Dull or matted coat
  • Appearance of “flea dirt” (Reddish-brown flecks in fur)

If your goats begin to display these symptoms, they probably have some kind of external parasite. It could be mites, lice, or another troublesome pest. Carefully examine the goats’ fur with gloved hands and take them in for a vet visit to ask for their advice in creating an action plan.

Dangers Of Mange

Mange is an irritating skin condition that can weaken your goats and diminish their quality of life. However, mange by itself isn’t a fatal condition. It mainly affects the skin and fur of your goats, not their vital organs.

That doesn’t mean that it’s okay to ignore though! I’m sure you wouldn’t want to live with a host of parasites on your body, and your goats don’t either. It’s important to start treating infestations as soon as you know about them. It may not be easy because parasites multiply so quickly and are small enough to hide. With enough patience and persistence though, you can get rid of them.

Mange comes with its own set of discomforts and dangers, even if it isn’t life-threatening. Goats with mange are more irritable and aggressive. It’s common for some types of mange to create inflamed nodules on their skin, which blocks hair follicles and creates painful and swollen patches.

Mange can also affect your goat’s milk quality and make them uncomfortable during milking. Mites and lice are often attracted to the udders of an animal, and once there, they create scales, irritated patches, and skin damage. Your goat might become angry or distressed if it’s milked, which is harmful in its own right. Young goats who rely on milk will also have a harder time bonding with their parent if this is the case.

Mange around the ears is very common in goats, and they will become irritated and distressed by the pain. Ear mites also create an unpleasant odor within the ear canal, and there will be unsightly drainage and ooze.

Finally, mange weakens your goats’ immune systems and makes them more vulnerable to disease, infections, and other parasites. While mange itself might not be deadly, the constant pain and irritation can make your goat weak and susceptible to other health issues. So even if it’s difficult to deal with, it’s vital the owners treat mange outbreaks within the goat herd.

Preventing Mange In Goats

It’s possible to treat mange in goats, but it’s always better to prevent problems before they start. There are some practices and habits you can get into to reduce your goats’ risk of contracting mites, lice, and other external parasites.

Keep Living Area Clean

First and foremost, you should maintain a clean living space for your goats. It’s harder for parasites to grow and spread in clean areas. Frequently clean out the goat pen or barn with soap and water and wait for it to dry completely. You should also regularly replace any loose straw or bedding. If there are any blankets or cloth goods in the barn, clean them regularly and replace them if there has been an outbreak of parasites.

Rotate Grazing Groups

Goats are social animals and many of them will follow the same schedule throughout the day. However, if all your goats are grazing at the same time (especially in a small pasture) there’s a higher risk that one could contract a parasite and spread it to the others. To combat this risk, create 2 or 3 smaller groups and rotate their grazing time so they can spread out appropriately and graze without crowding.

Quarantine New Goats

One of the biggest sources of parasitic outbreaks is the introduction of new animals. Mites can come from pretty much any warm-blooded animal, so you need to be careful when you mix new animals into your herd. If you buy new goats, make sure to quarantine them for a couple of weeks. Treat them for parasites and diseases during this period to help ensure that nothing will infect your existing herd.

Bathe And Disinfect Animals

Finally, practice good hygiene habits among your herd! Parasites will have a harder time taking root when your goats are clean and healthy. Arrange baths for your goats at least once a year and check them over for any signs of parasites. Keeping a watchful eye out is one of the best ways to catch infestations before they get out of control.

Treating Mange In Goats

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, mange can still show up in your goat herd. Once you spot an outbreak in one goat, it’s likely that the rest of them have been exposed as well. So when you treat one goat, it’s best to treat all of them.

Mites and lice hide within the fur of goats and they sometimes burrow into the skin itself. Because of this, it can be hard to treat mange without shaving the fur. Your goats might not like it in the moment, but shaving the fur will remove some of the surface-level parasites and make it easier to get to the rest of them.

Consult with your vet before applying any medication or treatments. They can give you up-to-date advice and recommend treatment plans for your situation. A few possible treatments are listed below though.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has become popular for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It can be poured directly over the affected areas, or misted on with a spray bottle. In order to get a full coverage, it’s a good idea to pour liquids along the back ridge of goats, from the crown of the head to the end of the tail. Apple cider vinegar is a natural solution that has proven effective in the past.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

If you’re dealing with an infestation of ear mites, you might want to consider using olive oil. If you pour a bit of olive oil into the goat’s ear canal and gently massage it, this will kill the parasites. Use a syringe (with no needle) to inject the oil.

Diatomaceous Earth Cleaner

If you’re looking for a stronger, store-bought product then you might want to consider using Diatomaceous Earth. This is a brand of insecticide that comes in the form of a dusty powder. It wears away at the outer coating of parasites and dehydrates them to the point of death. It’s effective against multiple types of insects and parasites and is becoming increasingly popular.

If you’re interested in buying Diatomaceous Earth, you can find it here.

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