Farm Animals
Young pygmy goat being held by child

What causes Mange in Goats

Young pygmy goat being held by child
Brenda Nelson's image for:
"What causes Mange in Goats"
Caption: Young pygmy goat being held by child
Image by: Brenda Nelson
© Brenda Nelson 

Although not deadly, mange is an often feared as though it were a nightmarish illness. Shabby looking animals are often referred to as looking like they have mange, although, to be fair, this is not always the case. As many breeds of goats shed in the spring it is easy to think a goat has mange when it does not.

Mange is an external problem seen in many species of animals. It is caused by tiny mites as we will discuss. In addition to looking bad, it is a problem because it results in animals that are stressed and poor keepers. Wool production, as in Angora goats, will be decreased.


Animals exhibit patchy areas of hair loss. The patches gradually enlarge over time.

Scratching and rubbing on stationary objects in the pasture, such as barns and feeders.

Open wounds may form as a result of the continual rubbing.

Animals may not gain weight because of the time spent itching instead of eating.


Sarcoptic Mange is caused by the mite known as Sarcoptes scabiei var caprae. It typically lives under the skin around the head and neck of the animal. Mites burrow under the skin to lay eggs, 2 centimeters deep. She will lay three to four eggs a day, and as many as fifty in her lifetime.

Psoroptic mange is also called ear mange and is caused by Psoroptes cuniculi, a mite that spends its time usually in the ear area, but can also be found elsewhere. Angora goats seem to be particularly bothered by this mite. It also burrows into the animal.

Chorioptes bovis is a mite that attacks primarily the legs and feet, where often crusty lesions are formed where mites are active.

Demodectic caprae are active mostly on the head of an infected animal. They form nodules which can be expressed to show a gray, waxy, substance, in which mites will be present.


Mange mites are spread from animal to animal mostly through direct contact, as when crowded together in the barn. The mites can live off the animals for a short period of time and can be spread through infected bedding, or, if an animal rubs on a place it may leave some mites behind for another to come into contact with.

Mange mites are species specific. Goat mites cannot live and feed on humans or other animals. However, humans can carry the mites on them, spreading them from one animal to another.


A veterinarian will need to take a skin sample to confirm the presence of the mange mite. As many species of mite burrow, the sample may have to involve removal of some skin.


When mange is diagnosed the whole herd should be treated. A newly infected animal, or a lightly infected one, may not show symptoms. Several drugs, such as ivermectin, doramectin, and pyyrethroid dips, are effective treatments, but should be used under a veterinarians guidance especially in cases of pregnant and lactating animals.
Often injection and topical treatments will be used in conjunction with each other to kill all the mites. It is very important not to under-dose when treating for mites as this will result in them building an immunity.

Pasture rotation should occur when treating so animals are not reinfected with mites that were recently itched off.


Utmost care should be taken when purchasing new goats. These animals should be inspected for signs of itching or rubbing. Any areas where hair loss is seen, and not the result of normal shedding, should be held suspect, especially if bumps are present.

Grooming tools and milking equipment should be disinfected regularly.

Infected animals should be isolated and bedding cleaned.

Healthy, well fed, animals are less at risk.

Producers who visit other farms should change their clothing before working with their own animals.

New animals should be quarantined.

As will any health problem, proper husbandry, and quick attention, should bring it under control.

More about this author: Brenda Nelson

From Around the Web