How to Get Rid of Cattle Mites

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Cows affected with mites can become sick and infect the herd.
Cows affected with mites can become sick and infect the herd. (Image: cow. cow in farm/field image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com)

Mange in cattle is caused by small insects called mites, which burrow into the cow's skin to bite, suck blood and lay eggs. The result is flaking, scabby skin, excessive itching and even hair loss. Mange mites are highly contagious and should be eradicated immediately.

Diagnose mange mites. Cattle infested with mites will scratch against any surface they can find, present with scabbed skin and have patchy, thinning coats. Depending on what kind of mange mites the cattle have, these symptoms can present on the cow's head, sides, around their tails and under their stomachs. Have your veterinarian confirm the diagnosis with skin scrapings.

Isolate any affected cows. Since mange is contagious, it is passed from cow to cow quickly and can infect an entire herd just through physical contact. Isolating the cows with mange from the healthy cows will restrict the infestation.

Wash the infected cattle with medicated washes as prescribed by your veterinarian on a routine prescribed by your vet (usually once a week). Continue these washings until all signs of the mange disappear. Prescriptions will differ depending on what kind of mite has infested your cattle. Miticides are only available as a prescription from your vet.

Clean the barn in which the affected cows have been living. Disinfect any grooming and cleaning tools that might have had contact with the mange mites. Mange mites are highly contagious and can be transferred through bedding an on walls and fences. Throw away any straw or shavings and use a solution of half bleach and half water to wash walls and fences that might have come into contact with the cows.

Make sure your cattle are well fed and groomed. Mites tend to affect cattle that have weak immune systems or live in dirty conditions. Maintaining better conditions will decrease the possibility of future mite infestations.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some types of mange also strike dogs, goats, cats, pigs and people. Cattle mange is not usually contagious to other animals.
  • Some mites can be dangerous and even life threatening to young calves.

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