Tip of the Month
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This month we're going to talk about some of the common skin problems that afflict dairy goats. These can be divided into several categories:
- Nutritional Disorders - complex interactions that are difficult to diagnose.
- General Malnutrition - reflected in skin and haircoat condition; skin is dry, scaly, thin, and inelastic; haircoat is dull, dry brittle, and thin. feed more and better rations, with a good quality free-choice hay. Supplement rations with vitamins and minerals. We feed 5 ml of Red Glo to each animal each week. They take it right from the dosing syringe as if it were candy.
- Vitamin A Deficiency - reflected in patchy hair loss, elongated hooves, possible corneal ulceration, night blindness, and weight loss.
- Iodine deficiency - presents as goiter in young kids, with generalized hair loss or a short fuzzy hair coat, and thickened, puffy skin.
- Zinc Deficiency - this element is needed for muscle and bone growth, efficient feed utilization, normal reproductive function, taste and smell acuity, and wound healing; there is a complex interaction with other dietary components that affect absorbtion of these other components; clinical signs of deficiency include poor growth rate, reduced feed intake, listlessness, weakness, and skin problems characterized by crusting, scaling, redness, and hair loss; the face, ears, distal limbs, scrotum, and udder are the most commonly involved areas; haircoat is dull and brittle and may be dry or greasy. Treatment with 0.5 to 1.0 gram of Zinc Sulfate daily.
- Vitamin E/Selenium deficiency - presents with hair loss around the eyes with generalized seborrheic skin disorder; skin is very scaly with some crust, and coat is dry, dull, and brittle; treatment with BO-SE at 3 ml / 100 lbs.
- Physical and Chemical Disorders
- Contact Dermatitis - Bucks get this frequently during the breeding season, and present with urine scald around the face, lips, and legs; It is helpful to bathe these areas (on warmer days) with mild soap, followed by an application of vitamin E oil or aloe vera.
- Sunburn - teats and udders of light skinned or freshly shaved animals; apply sunscreen (SPF30 minimum) with PABA.
- Photosensitization - affects only white skin, especially sparsely covered areas; associated with ingestion of certain toxic plants or severe liver disease.
- Parasitic Diseases
- Lice - sucking and chewing lice; transmission by direct contact or grooming tools; increased prevalence during the Winter months; sucking lice can contribute to anemia and poor condition; chewing lice damage the fleece of wool producing goats (Angoras); signs include rubbing, restlessness, weight loss, decreased production, scaling, crusting, and hair loss; treat with insecticide dusts (rotenone or flea powders approved for cats); repeat in 7-10 days; monthly worming with Zimecterin helps tremendously.
- Ear mange mite - external ear infection; treat with Mitox.
- Sarcoptic mange - initially affects face, ears, limbs, and may later spread to other parts of the body; causes severe irritation; secondary bacterial skin infection can add complications; sometimes difficult to find mites; Treat with zimecterin or Amitraz.
- Chorioptic mange - more prevalent around hooves, udder, scrotum, limbs, base of tail, and flank area; similar to sarcoptic mange
- Demodectic mange - usually benign, if somewhat unsightly; firm nodules in the skin; neither painful nor irritating, and may go unnoticed; may be expressed or surgically incised.
- Bacterial and Fungal Infections
- Viral Infections
- Neoplastic Diseases - generally very rare in dairy goats.
This month we covered the nutritional disorders, the chemical and physical disorders, and the parasitic diseases. Next month, we'll discuss the bacterial and fungal infections, the viral infections, and the neoplastic diseases. Fortunately, most of us will not often see any of these diseases. And for the most part, we can actively keep these villains at bay by the simple acts of monthly care and upkeep. However, it helps to recognize a problem and to know how to treat it should it rear its nasty head. At the very least, we should know enough to describe the maladies to our veterinarians. "See" you all next month.