Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
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A goat that is losing hair  on  its  lower legs around the hock and above the hoof,  inside the leg where it connects to the body,   on the scrotum, udder,  anus,  ears, face, or other areas that normally have a thin hair covering   and/or   has  skin that has formed wrinkled and thickened crusts almost like fish scales   is a goat  that probably  has  mange mites.

Sometimes called "scabies," from the Latin word that means "to scratch," this ectoparasite (parasite that  lives on or just below the skin  of its host) should not be confused with "scrapie," which is an incurable brain disease. Mites belong to the arachnid subclass Acari, so another term for mite infestation is Acariasis.  Manage mites are contagious.  Transmission  is through direct body contact from goat to goat.


There are three types of mange mites that can affect goats: scarcoptic, psoroptic, and chorioptic. The mite hardest to eradicate is the scarcoptic mange mite (Scarcoptes scabei) because it burrows into the skin, making tunnels in which it lives and lays eggs, feeding off skin cells and sucking lymph fluid. The goat body parts mentioned above are starting points for these mites because they can spread over the goat's entire body. Psoroptic and chorioptic mites don't burrow into the skin but still damage the goat.

My advice is  when you suspect mites, assume the worst kind and treat accordingly.

Accurate determination  of mite infestation requires that a skin plug be taken by a vet and examined under a microscope. Skin scrapings are seldom sufficient because the mites burrow deep into the skin. A plug must be pulled to the point of drawing blood. Sometimes mites or their eggs can be found in fecal samples, but examining a skin plug under a microscope is the most accurate method of diagnosis.

It is easy to mis-diagnose visually, decide to treat for one condition, then it turns out to be another. Example: Mis-diagnose fungus as staph infection, use steroids as part of the treatment, and the fungus rapidly gets worse.   Realistically, however, you need to learn how to diagnose different skin diseases,  because goat vets are few and far between and the goat needs immediate treatment for relief.  This isn't rocket science; you can do it!

The mite spends its entire life cycle either on or under the goat's skin. This parasite cannot survive off the goat for more than a few days. Intense itching follows the development of lesions, thickening of the skin, and formation of dry crusts. Itching is the body's inflammatory response to the mites' fecal pellets. Zinc deficiency may coincide with mite infestation, and a secondary bacterial skin infection can occur, requiring antibiotics.

Here are  diagnostic clues:   Mite infestation can occur in summer or winter.    Changing weather conditions affect mite infestation on goats.     Mites take up residence on goats in periods of  drought  when their usual  hosts (rabbits, squirrels, deer) have died off, as well as in areas where goats live in close quarters and are intensively managed.       Immune-suppressed goats are more likely to have the worst cases of mite infestation, but healthy animals can be infested when the mite population is high. A group of bucks in rut can be sufficiently stressed that their immune systems are compromised enough for mites to attack them.

Poor semen production in breeding bucks can be caused by mange mites.  Semen production must be done at temperatures lower than the goat's body temperature. The scrotum's design permits heat loss so that semen can be produced outside the  body of the buck. Scab formation on the scrotum prevents this heat loss, concentrating heat inside and impairing semen production. While the buck's sex drive (libido) is not reduced, his body cannot produce sperm capable of inseminating female goats. Once the mites are killed, quality semen production usually returns. I cannot find any documented evidence that the doe's ability to become pregnant and carry to term is affected by mite infestation on her body.

Human reaction to  mites is normally limited to  skin irritation and can clear up  on its own. Sometimes topical anti-itch medications are needed.


Aggressive treatment is necessary to kill mites on goats. No one-time-use treatment will work. Hair must be re-growing on the goat's body parts before treatment can be considered effective. Long-haired goats may have to be sheared for mite eradication to be successful. Since mites can live for several days off the goat and in the environment before they die, sheds and bedding areas must also be frequently cleaned and treated.  At a minimum, rake and dispose of  all contaminated bedding and dust the loafing areas with Diatomaceous Earth or similar product every day.

ALL goats in the herd must be treated -- not just the ones with obvious mite infestation.

There are several different products that can be used to kill mites on and under the skin of goats. The product which I have found that works best to kill mange mites is Pierce's All Purpose Nu-Stock. It is a sulphur, mineral oil, and pine-oil-based cream in a tube that should be applied using disposable gloves (because it is messy and smells bad). I think it works best because (a) it stays on longer, and (b) it "suffocates" the mites. Apply at least once a week for at least  three consecutive weeks. Nu-Stock also has lots of other uses. Jeffers (1-800-JEFFERS) carries Nu-Stock.  Keep several tubes in your inventory.  NuStock is  available without prescription at this date (March 2023).

Less preferred treatments include injecting the  dewormer Ivermectin  SQ, dosing at one to two cc's per 50 pounds bodyweight weekly for at least three consecutive weeks. Use the 1% strength Ivermectin and inject SQ over the ribs with an 18 gauge needle to minimize stinging reactions.    Topical application of Lime Sulphur Dip must be done AT THE SAME TIME you use the 1% ivermectin subcutaneously.   Buy Lime Sulphur Dip (97.8% strength) concentrated form and mix according to label directions. Lime Sulphur mix is applied by spray or dip and must be done every week for at least three weeks and sometimes weekly as long as six weeks if the skin isn't clearing up. Topical application of 1% Ivermectin weekly for three or more consecutive weeks is an alternative to Lime Sulphur Dip. Jeffers carries 1% ivermectin and Lime-Sulphur Dip concentrate.

NuStock is much easier to use and requires less frequent applications. NuStock has long been the most effective treatment for my herd.

Livestock guardian dogs (and all other dogs) are also subject to mite infestation and may have to be treated.  REMEMBER THAT IVERMECTIN OF ANY STRENGTH IS TOXIC TO SOME DOG BREEDS.

There is some confusion about species specificity of mange mites.  Some research indicates that certain mites are specific to a single species and other literature implies that mites may not be species specific after all.   Check your livestock guardian dogs for mites when you determine your goats have them and treat the dogs appropriately.

Goats can be infested with both mange mites and LICE.  See my article on the Articles page of www.tennesseemeatgoats.com on how to recognize and treat to eradicate lice.

Note: Mange mites and "hot spots" on dogs are two entirely different problems. "Hot spots" occur at areas of heavy flea infestation, and dogs usually lick the areas repeatedly. First treat the entire dog for fleas ,  then apply Gentocin Spray (vet prescription) to the "hot spot" until it clears up.

Tip:  I have found that Bravecto  for fleas on dogs (chewable or topical liquid - vet prescription), although  expensive,  lasts  six months or longer in my Texas environment.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, ONION CREEK RANCH, Texas     3.1.23

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All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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