Yesterday, after posting about my worry for my goat, Peaches, and her skin problem on her feet, I finally managed to hit on the magic combination of words that lead me to this page, all about mange-mites. I've scarred myself reading about the many problems that goats can have, and I saw pictures of pitiful goats that I wish I'd never seen, but I never could find anything that seemed like it could be Peaches problem until now. I think it's mites! Not lice, which some people call mites, which are visible and tend to attack during the winter, but microscopic mites that borrow under the skin and attack during dry periods. Deer have them, and they can spread to goats. Goats that have been stressed are most likely to get them, like poor Peaches, who has had two new homes, with new dogs, new routines, new foods, new everything, in a matter of months and still has fresh scars from a dog attack.
I had an exciting Eureka! moment when I read about the mites. It could explain why the River brothers, those fat pampered babies, don't have them yet, and why Peaches seems itchy. The goat's immune response can make them itchy all over, not just where the mites have burrowed in. The mites tunnel in to the skin in hard to reach places, like around those dew claw hooves, and they make oozy wounds. My moment of elation at finding a possible answer to the problem was quickly followed by disgust and despair. Oh no! - my goat has a horrible, and contagious, infestation of bugs! Gross! It's gotten worse instead of better. And now I'm itchy too, just because I've been reading and thinking about mites. Yuck.
It wasn't long before I quit beating myself up for not realizing what the problem was sooner. Now that I might have identified the enemy, I can arm myself better. Bugs? I'm not afraid of no stinking bugs! There are things I can use to fight them, including having the vet inject her with pesticide. Before I try that route though, I'm going to try some over the counter methods that were recommended, and make sure I pay extra attention to her worming schedule and mineral intake. Good food, clean bedding, calm routine - all that stuff. The Betadine soaks and purple anti-fungal that I've been using have probably been good to prevent a secondary infection, but they aren't going to kill the bugs. We're changing our strategy. Wish us luck.
This morning there was frost on the grass. Real ice crystals, and the chicken's water bucket had a film of ice on the top. The goats stayed snuggled under the ping pong table lean-to, in their bed of leaves and straw, while I bustled around getting everyone ready for the day. Rufus was feeling frisky and wanted to play with the manure rake instead of letting me collect the droppings from his stall.
Rufus could get the mites, and so could the dogs. I asked Rufus to let me know if he had any itchy spots and ran my hands down his legs feeling for crusty places. I remind myself that having all these animals means I'm going to have all their parasites too. It's just part of it, right? We are all hosts to other organisms, and when one of them starts to cause problems, it's because something isn't as good as it could be. It's a good thing I like a challenge.