HOW TO IDENTIFY EXTERNAL PARASITES
Eternal parasites can cause problems with the growth and health of your livestock project as well as other pets. So it cannot be emphasized enough that controlling external parasites is very important to your livestock management program.
External parasites are a problem because they bite and feed on body tissue, blood, skin and hair. External parasites can cause extreme discomfort and create wounds and diseases if left untreated.
Signs of External Parasites
Itchy – Your animal can be itchy, scratching constantly and shaking their heads. They may rub themselves against the walls and fences without stopping. Left untreated, they will lose their hair and cause injury to the skin from itching.
Specific Areas of Irritation – There may be one specific area that is irritated and the skin may look raised or bumpy. There may be crusty or oozing bald spots.
Open Skin Wounds – Parasites or itching can create wounds that can become infected.
Bad Smell – There may be a foul smell. Examine the coat or skin to determine what is stinking. It may be a wound that needs to be cleaned and treated to avoid flies from planting maggot larvae!
Irregular Skin – Skin may show damage with loss of hair, scale formation, thickening and wrinkling & red or bumps in the affected area.
Loss of Appetite – With severe infestations, your animal may lose its appetite.
Weight Loss – As the parasite increases the irritation, your animal may lose their appetite or lose weight due to blood loss.
Types of External Parasites
External parasites come in a variety of sizes from microscopic to large horse flies! The small parasites will likely live in hard to reach areas such as the base of the tail, between the legs, behind the ears and neck areas. We’ll start with the tiny parasites and work up to the more obvious pests.
Are microscopic and hard to see bugs that burrow under the skin and hair.
- There are 3 basic types of Mites:
- Ear Mites
- Follicle Mites (Sarcoptic Mange)
- Scabies Mites (Demodectic Mange)
Mite Treatment –
Mites can be treated with Ivermectin based oral paste or other topical insecticides. I have successfully used Ivermectin horse wormer orally on goats, sheep & swine (1/3 tube each day for 3 days). Although mites may not be seen, but will they will show up as red hives or crusty bumps on the neck & ear area.
Symptoms of ear mites are may be excessive shaking of their head and walk with their head cocked sideways. See Swine Worming for more information on different worming strategies. For more information – see the article on Mange Management & Symptoms.
Are a small, slow moving bug that will find a good spot to stop and bury their head under the skin. They typically do not move around after they attach. They can be physically removed by grasping the body and gently pulling upward. After removal, pinch them in half to kill them to keep them from returning. Clean the bite area with an antiseptic and wash your hands with soap and water. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease. See how they can grow quickly when they become attached to your animal? When you groom your animal, always be looking for tick if you have been walking in tall brush or open fields. If you need to walk in fields, give your animal a quick spray with fly spray. This is a good deterrent in keeping ticks off. . See Swine Worming for more information on different worming strategies. For more information – see the article on Parasite Control – External Parasites
Fleas are commonly found on dogs, cats and many fur bearing wild animals. Fleas are small little bugs that bite and suck blood from you animal. They are fast little bugs who can easily scurry away through the fur and are great jumpers. Humans can get fleas from their pets. The best remedy for getting rid of fleas is to spray the area where the animal travels & wash everything and replace shavings or straw. The flea life cycle is 7 days, so it is recommended to rewash everything in 5-6 days to beat the hatching of the new fleas. For more flea fighting strategies, see the article on External Parasites for flea control.
Flies can cause irritation by biting the skin or causing wounds to become severely infected. They can also cause infections to the eyes & skin area. If there are wounds, be sure to clean the wounds or skin irritations twice a day and apply fly spray to your animal. Treat the pen area by hanging fly repellant bags or strips in the pen and area to help reduce the fly population. Keep all manure picked up and placed in a trashcan with a secure lid. See article on fly control for other strategies.
Ringworm is a microscopic parasite that is more like a fungus and leaves a red ring on the skin of your animal. Your animal will likely lose their hair or wool in the area of the ring worm. It is very contagious to humans and other animals, so seek help in selecting a method of getting rid of the ringworm. Ringworm will disqualify you from showing your project at a show. So do not delay in getting this resolved! See the article Parasite Control – External Parasites for Ringworm for other strategies.
The key to controlling external parasites is to keep an eye open for them. This should be part of your daily health and wellness check. When caught early, treatment is fast and effective.