Lice cause intense irritation to all types of goats, and are an unnecessary problem for all goats and owners.
Most feral goats will have lice, and it is wise for all goat growers bringing any new goats onto their property, either for increasing herd size, or for joining, to take precautionary action at all times.
In herds grown for fleece, there is a danger of the animals rubbing against trees etc. which will damage the fibre.
Lice egg casings and dead skin in the fleece, which is a serious fault, will lower the dying quality of the fibre, and make handling it unpleasant.
In breeding herds, lice will eventuate in lower milk production and a subsequent reduction in liveweight gain of kids.
Lice populations on goats are usually at their highest during the winter months.
They decline during spring, and are at their lowest in summer when high temperatures and strong sunlight kill many adult lice.
Lice are animal specific, and spend the whole of their lives on the host animal. Once off the host, they will survive only a few days depending on climatic conditions. Eggs attach to a hair fibre, and hatch after about a week.
The nymphal lice undergo three moults and mature in about 30 days, to live for a month laying perhaps one egg per day, The spread of lice is ONLY from one goat to another.
There are two types of lice affecting goats: The “blue” or sucking lice (Linognathus stenopsis) that feed on the blood of the animal – and the four species of “red” or biting lice (Damalinia species, and Bovicola painei) that feed on the surface tissue and scurf.
The sucking lice L.stenopsis will cross infect both sheep and goats.
The goat biting lice do not breed on sheep, and the sheep biting lice do not breed on goats.
Goat Lice Treatments
Animals may be dipped (bathed) or sprayed with insecticide. More recent treatments are “Backline” or “Spot-on” treatments with proprietary brand chemicals, or by drench or injection.
Some of these treatments may not be cleared for use on goats.
Backline chemicals dissolve in the fleece grease and kill those lice that come into contact with them as they move around the body.
Pour-on/Spot-on chemicals are absorbed by the skin into the bloodstream, where they affect the lice, until the chemical is naturally degraded.At least 2 treatments are advisable to eliminate lice.
Some of the “mectin” groups of drenches and injections may be used under veterinary advice, for lice control, BUT they are not all cleared for use on goats. Again, two treatments are required.
It is imperative that all animals in the mob are treated at the same time, to ensure that all lice are eliminated, taking in the variation in the life cycle.
TAKE CARE with these chemicals, since they can be detrimental to human health, and toxic.
READ THE LABEL, and note expiry dates and with-holding periods.