Often, our worst enemies are those we can’t see. That’s especially true for parasites and goats. More specifically, mites on goats. Mites are tiny parasites we can’t see with our bare eyes, yet they can cause big problems for producers, especially in the show barn.
Mites on goats cause skin irritations and wounds. These lead to discomfort and overall irritation, which can cause animals to go off feed, leading to poor performance. Reduction in weight gain and milk production are two of the disadvantages of mites on goats. Furthermore, transmission from animal to animal is rapid, and the overall efficiency of the herd is compromised.
What are mites?
Mites are minuscule little bugs that spend their entire lives on or in animals’ skin. Although multiple species of mites exist, the most common you will find in your show barn is likely chorioptic mites, which stay on the skin.
Mites on goats can cause a lot of external damage. When you are showing goats and trying to make a great first impression, that damage can be detrimental. That’s why it is so important to have a quality herd health protocol in place.
“The biggest sign that your goats have mites is they start itching and scratching, especially on their legs. If the irritation gets too bad, they will start biting and pull out their leg hair at the roots,” said Brady McComb, goat breeder from Pratt, Kansas.
Prevention is Vital
McComb recommends taking preventative measures in your show barn. Mites spread quickly from animal to animal and even from animal to person. It’s best to be proactive and stop them before they make their home on the show goats you are working so hard with daily. He offers his advice to prevent the infestation of getting mites on your goats.
Treat your Bedding
Mites like to burrow. A great way to introduce mites into your show barn is through the bedding you bring into it. McComb said anytime he puts fresh shavings or cedar fiber into his pens; he treats the bedding before putting goats in the pens. He sprays the bedding with a popular insecticide spray for mites and mange.
Keep Pens Clean
Like any parasite, mites like filth. Be sure to keep your pens clean.
“Dirty shavings attract the mites,” McComb said.
Pick your pens at least daily to remove feces and any damp shavings or bedding. The more often you clean your pens, the less you will have to worry about mites and other pests while keeping your goats cleaner.
Have a Vaccination Protocol
“I make sure all of our goats are on a schedule to get an injectable wormer, like Ivermectin. That helps control mites on our goats,” McComb said.
A regular vaccine schedule is typical for many show livestock. Keep track of the vaccination dates and dosages in a secure location. Some people dedicate a notebook or use a whiteboard in their feed room. You can also set a reminder on your phone to avoid missing your next dose.
Clean your Animals
McComb said he and his crew wash goats daily. After rinsing, he will mix Kleen Sheen with a small dose of the same insecticide he uses on his bedding and spray the goats down. This application helps condition the goats’ skin and hair while also helping to prevent further mites on goats.
Whenever McComb brings new animals into his barn, he follows a strict health protocol, including putting new animals in quarantine for at least a week. He makes sure all the goats have had proper vaccinations. And he keeps a close eye on them for any signs of itching, scratching or biting at leg hair, all signs of mange and mites on goats.
Once you have a mite on a goat, you better figure out fast how to eradicate them from your barn. Although their life span is relatively short – usually less than three weeks – the females will produce anywhere between 14 to 20 eggs. They only produce one egg per day. Females typically gather together to lay eggs in a cluster, so you can see why treatment of the entire herd is imperative when these little mites can move from goat to goat.
It is important to treat all goats regularly with an injectable parasite control like Ivermectin. Once you have mites on your goats, you will also want to treat their skin to try to kill the mites and help their skin heal. McComb also suggests a pour-on parasite control for the entire herd. Consult with a veterinarian for dosing and instructions.
However, the product that McComb has found works well for him might surprise you.
“If we do get mites, we wash our goats down good for a couple of days with Dawn dish soap. It strips the mites away,” he said.
More about Mites
Mites are tiny arthropods that can infest and affect various animals, including goats. In the context of show goats, mite infestations can lead to several issues that may impact the goat’s health and appearance.
Common types of mites on goats include:
Sarcoptic Mites (Sarcoptes Scabiei)
These mites cause sarcoptic mange, a highly contagious skin disease. Infected goats may exhibit intense itching, hair loss, crusty skin and scabs. In show goats, the appearance of the coat is crucial, and a mite infestation can significantly detract from the goat’s overall presentation.
Chorioptic Mites (Chorioptes Bovis)
Chorioptic mange is caused by these mites, and it primarily affects the lower legs and feet of goats. Infested goats may develop thickened, scaly skin and show signs of discomfort. While this condition may not be as severe as sarcoptic mange, it can still affect the goat’s appearance and potentially cause lameness.
Psoroptes Mites (Psoroptes Ovis)
These mites cause psoroptic mange, which affects the ears, head and neck of goats. Infestations can result in crusted, scaly skin and hair loss. Irritation and discomfort can lead to head shaking and rubbing, further affecting the goat’s appearance in a show setting.
Mites can spread quickly among animals in close proximity, so prompt identification and treatment are essential to prevent the infestation from spreading throughout a herd, including show goats. Veterinary guidance is crucial for diagnosing and treating mite infestations effectively. Proper management practices, including good hygiene and quarantine procedures, can also help prevent the introduction and spread of mites in a show goat environment.
Symptoms of Mites on Goats
We mentioned that mites can cause various health issues for goats when left without treatment. In case you weren’t convinced that it’s a good idea to tackle mites early, we thought it would be helpful to discuss what to look for if you think your barn is dealing with a mite infestation.
Here’s a list, broken down by common mite species and general outcome, of what symptoms to look for when caring for goats with mites.
Sarcoptic Mange (Sarcoptes Scabiei):
- Intense Itching and Restlessness: Sarcoptic mange, caused by the burrowing mite Sarcoptes scabiei, leads to intense itching. Infected goats may appear restless, continuously scratching or biting their skin.
- Hair Loss and Crusty Skin: The constant scratching results in hair loss, and the affected areas may develop crusty, scaly skin. This compromises the goat’s appearance, particularly in show settings where coat quality is essential.
Chorioptic Mange (Chorioptes Bovis):
- Lesions on Lower Legs: Chorioptic mange primarily affects the lower legs and feet, leading to thickened, scaly skin. Infestations can cause lesions and open sores, affecting the goat’s mobility and causing discomfort.
- Lameness: The irritation and inflammation associated with chorioptic mange can result in lameness, impacting the goat’s ability to move comfortably.
Psoroptic Mange (Psoroptes Ovis):
- Ear and Head Involvement: Psoroptic mange affects the ears, head and neck of goats. The infestation can cause crusted, scaly skin and hair loss in these areas.
- Head-Shaking and Rubbing: Goats may exhibit head shaking and rubbing against objects as they try to alleviate the itching and irritation caused by psoroptic mange.
- Bacterial Infections: Scratching and open sores resulting from mite infestations can create opportunities for bacterial infections. Bacteria entering through these wounds can lead to abscesses and more severe health issues.
- Systemic Impact: Chronic mite infestations and secondary infections can have a systemic impact on the goat’s health, potentially affecting internal organs and leading to a decline in overall well-being.
- Agitation and Stress: Mite-infested goats may display signs of agitation and stress due to the discomfort caused by itching and skin irritation.
- Social Impact: Changes in behavior can also affect the social dynamics within a herd, as goats may avoid interaction with or be aggressive toward other animals.
General Health & Performance Concerns:
- Weight Loss: Goats expending energy on constant scratching and dealing with the effects of mite infestations may experience reduced weight gain and overall poor body condition.
When left untreated, mites on goats can have multifaceted effects—everything from physical discomfort and skin issues to behavioral changes and reduced weight gain.
Now, this is problematic in any goat herd, but especially concerning in show goats. Early detection, proper treatment and preventative measures are crucial for maintaining the health and well-being of goats. This is especially true when their appearance and performance are critical.
Regular veterinary care and effective herd management practices play key roles in addressing and preventing mite-related problems in goats.
Although the focus of this article is to help you learn about mites on goats, mites are not isolated to just goats. According to one USDA entomologist, there are at least 3 to 5 million species of mites. They are on us, in our house and in our barn.
Remember, if you keep dogs or cats in your barn, they are mite carriers, too. It is crucial to work with your veterinarian to make sure these animals are treated regularly for parasite control.
Mites will be most prevalent in your barn and on your goats from late fall through the spring. They are looking for a warm place, and your goats are an ideal habitat for them.
Small but mighty, you don’t want your diligent effort of working hair and skin on your show goats to be for naught. Be sure to take measures to prevent mites on your goats to keep them healthy, performing and looking their best.
Nutrition Plays a Part in Performance & Health
If you’ve read this blog and feel itchy, you’re not alone. The Sure Champ® team had similar feelings while researching & writing it. But a major point we hope you take away from this content is that paying attention and prioritizing preventative care is essential. That way, you never have to deal with mites on goats outside this blog.
Step 1 in making sure you get ahead of any health concerns—even before preventative care—like mites? Proper nutrition. Since we know that 70% of overall health starts with immune response that starts in the digestive system, keeping that system healthy is imperative. Keep your goat’s digestive system healthy with Sure Champ® Extreme with ClariFly®.
This pelleted, daily supplement for show livestock with ClariFly is designed to support hoof health, hair coat and performance when temperatures are above 70 degrees. It contains AO-Biotics® Amaferm®, a prebiotic research-proven to enhance digestibility and MOS (mannan oligosaccharide) to help normalize gut microflora and support the immune system.
Additionally, it includes the HEAT® technology to support animals when heat is a challenge. And to control insects, a combination of essential oils and garlic, as well as ClariFly®.
The BioZyme Difference
BioZyme has always valued creating safe, accurate products that support champions. Our quality processes are some of the most rigorous and effective in our industry
In addition, our products are backed by over 70 years of research. We choose to invest in research so we can be forward-thinking and innovative while staying ahead in our commitment to care that comes full circle.
We are also committed to sharing our resources to make a difference through advocacy for the sustainability of agriculture along with animal and human well-being.
Give Your Show Goats the Support They Deserve
Are you looking for ways to power your next champion? Well, step one is treating them for mites on goats. Once that’s done, though, it’s all about nutrition! Add Sure Champ or Vita Charge powered by Amaferm to their diet.