As winter sneaks up on us, goat owners must be vigilant in safeguarding their herds from the challenges that come with the season. One often overlooked aspect of winter goat care is the prevalence of skin conditions that can affect these animals. The combination of cold, dampness, and dietary changes can create the perfect storm for skin issues in goats.
How do you treat skin conditions in goats?
Fungal Infections in Goats and How to Treat Them
Fungal infections, such as ringworm, are more common in winter due to the prolonged dampness. Goats may contract these infections from contaminated bedding or contact with other infected animals. Look out for circular, hairless patches on the goat’s skin, often accompanied by itching and scaly skin. Keep bedding clean and dry, and isolate infected goats to prevent the spread. Topical antifungal treatments, or even just iodine, can be applied to affected areas, and affected goats should be monitored closely.
Mites on Goats and How to Treat Them
Mites are microscopic creatures that burrow into the goat’s skin, leading to intense itching and discomfort. They can not be seen with the naked eye. The stress of winter can weaken a goat’s immune system, making them more susceptible to mites. Infected goats may exhibit hair loss, intense scratching, and skin inflammation. Often the hair loss is visible first on the back of the front legs, with some skin scabiness. It can also be spotted early on around the eyes and ears. Maintain good management practices and inspect goats regularly. If mites are suspected, consult with a veterinarian for skin scraping for proper diagnosis and treatment, which may involve medicated dips or topical treatments. If you are comfortable diagnosing the issue yourself, there are several treatments available, including Ivermectin, lime sulfur dips and Nu-Stock.
Dry Skin and Cracking on Goats
Cold, dry winter air can lead to dry skin and cracking in goats. This condition is often exacerbated by insufficient moisture in the environment and poor nutrition. Dry, flaky skin, and in severe cases, painful cracks in the skin, especially around the hooves and udder. Provide goats with adequate shelter to shield them from harsh winter conditions. Ensure they have access to fresh water and a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients. Applying moisturizing creams or balms can help alleviate dry skin.
Frostbite in Goats
Frostbite occurs when the skin and underlying tissues freeze, usually affecting extremities like the ears, tail, and udder in goats exposed to extreme cold. Skin may appear discolored, pale, or bluish, and affected areas can become swollen, painful, and eventually slough off. Protect goats with appropriate shelter and bedding from extreme cold. If frostbite occurs, consult with a veterinarian for wound care and potential antibiotics to prevent secondary infections.
Lice in Goats
Lice may become more problematic during winter as goats huddle together for warmth, providing an ideal environment for parasites to spread. Goats may scratch excessively and have a rough, unkempt coat. Lice is visible to the naked eye. Go through your goat’s coat and look closely if you suspect lice. You can also use a lice comb to brush through the coat to see if any lice get picked up. If lice are found, there are several treatments available. In the wintertime, it’s suggested to use a powder or topical treatment rather than a bath or a spray. In warmer weather, you can use a bath.
Zinc Deficiency in Goats
Zinc deficiency is a significant concern for goat farmers worldwide. Often overlooked, this essential mineral plays a crucial role in various physiological functions in goats.
Foraging on lands with depleted soil or consuming low-quality feed can lead to insufficient zinc intake. Certain conditions or diseases can hinder the absorption of zinc in a goat’s digestive system, even if they are consuming adequate amounts in their diet. Goats suffering from zinc deficiency may exhibit rough or brittle hair, skin lesions, or slow wound healing. A lack of zinc can compromise the immune system, leading to increased susceptibility to infections and diseases. Young goats with insufficient zinc may experience stunted growth or development issues.
Preventing zinc deficiency involves proactive measures in the goat’s care routine. Ensure goats have access to a well-balanced diet rich in zinc. This may include high-quality forage and supplements if necessary. Regularly assess the zinc levels in the soil and forage to understand if the goats are grazing in areas deficient in this mineral. Adjust their diet accordingly or provide supplements as needed. In cases where dietary intake isn’t sufficient, supplements can help bridge the gap. Zinc supplements should be administered under professional guidance to avoid overdose or imbalance. Treatment involves addressing the underlying cause while supplementing zinc as necessary. This might include a top dress for feed, a daily supplement, or injectable forms of zinc, depending on the severity of the deficiency.
Winter brings its own set of challenges for goat owners, including an increased risk of skin conditions. Being proactive with preventive measures such as proper shelter, nutrition, and hygiene can go a long way in keeping your goats healthy during the colder months. Adding a supplement such as Funk Fixer herbal goat treats can help boost zinc intake and also help promote skin health. Regular inspections and early intervention are key to managing and treating skin conditions if they do arise. Addressing these issues promptly ensures that your goats stay comfortable and healthy throughout the winter season.