People who own and breed goats occasionally run across a problem with lice in their herd. These parasites are common on many forms of animal, including livestock, wild birds, and even human beings. Infestations of lice can be detrimental to the health of the flock, and in some cases can even result in death. While it is extremely difficult to eradicate all of the lice from a herd of goats, it is possible to keep the infestation under control with the right procedures.
While goat lice canít be passed on to chickens or people, for example, it can be passed to and from sheep, which are closely related to goats.
Goat lice can cause irritation in the host animal, as well as tenderness around the infected areas, as they are constantly trying to rub and relieve the itching caused by the mouth of the lice. You may also find bald patches, where they have rubbed the fur away. In some cases, this can become so severe that the goat develops open sores. The danger with open sores is that they can easily become infected. Inspect your animals immediately if you suspect anything.
Two main types of goat lice exist, those that bite and those that suck. While the ones that bite may be somewhat irritating, they are not as dangerous as the ones that actually burrow into the skin and suck the blood of the host animal. Three types of goat lice exist that are very dangerous for your animals. They are the goat sucking louse, which is unfortunately common, the foot louse, that prefer legs, feet, the underbelly, and sometimes the scrotum, and the African blue louse. Despite the name, the African blue louse is also found in the United States.
Goat lice are transferred from one goat to another, and this is often how an infestation in an uninfected herd can begin. They cannot survive away from their host for more than a few days Ė a week at most. By bringing just one goat that is suffering from lice into you herd, you can spread it to all of your goats in just a short time.
The easiest way of keeping your herd untouched is by inspecting all goats and sheep before you bring them into the herd. Keep them quarantined for a week or two as well and observe them. If you see or suspect lice, you should have them treated before you release them into the general population.
You should check your herd for goat lice several times a year, even if they are showing no signs of infestation. Lice tend to be more prevalent during the colder months, so be sure you check several times in the autumn and winter.
You can find several types of insecticide that you can use to help control the population of lice, but it is very difficult to kill all of their eggs. If you suspect lice to be a problem with your goats, get them treated immediately, otherwise you risk decreasing the value of your entire herd.