Lice Treatment in Goats

Three goats outdoors
Three goats outdoors (Image: srdjan111/iStock/Getty Images)

Lice infestation, formally known as pediculosis, spreads by direct contact in goats. Caprine lice treatment consists of applying appropriate insecticides in powder, spray or pour-on form. While lice can infest your herd year-round, they generally appear in late fall, winter and early spring. Preventive measures can keep these biting or sucking parasites from harming your goats.

Types of Goat Lice

Sucking lice (Linognathus stenopsis) are found on short-haired goats, as well as the long-haired angora-type goats. These lice, which pierce the goat's skin to draw in blood, usually infest the back and rear legs. Biting lice (Damalinia caprae) usually attack short-haired breeds. Two types of biting lice primarily infest angora-type goats: Dlimbata and D crassipes. These lice chew on the goat's skin and hair, often focusing on the head, neck, tail and between the legs.

Goat Lice Symptoms

Once an infestation starts, goats lose hair, scratch and develop secondary infections, and generally lose condition. The coat becomes rough and the animal might drop weight. In kids, a bad infestation can prove fatal, with the young goats dying from anemia. Although lice are tiny, you can see small gray or brown insects moving on your goat's skin. You also can place a piece of tape on your goat's skin and take the insects to your veterinarian so she can identify the louse. If your animals develop infected lesions from constant scratching, contact your vet so she can prescribe appropriate antibiotic treatment.

Goat Lice Treatment

Apply the lice-killing insecticide recommended by your veterinarian. After the initial treatment, your vet may recommend reapplying the louse spray, dust or pour-on product two weeks later to kill lice eggs. Your vet likely will recommend treating every goat on your farm, even those who show no signs of infestation. If you keep sheep, ask your vet if you should treat them as well, since certain sheep lice will infest goats. Make sure to follow the directions provided by your vet and those on the product carefully for dosage amounts. Too much of an insecticide can harm kids. If you keep milk goats, it's likely you can't use the milk for a specified time after applying lice treatment.

Goat Lice Prevention

Keeping your animals in clean, uncrowded conditions and feeding them a high-quality diet can prevent lice from taking hold. Routinely examine your goats for any signs of lice. Regular deworming of your goats can prevent sucking lice infestation. Before bringing new animals into the herd, quarantine them for a few weeks. During the quarantine period, deworm them and inspect them carefully for any signs of lice. Ask your vet about delousing insecticides for preventive purposes.

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