Well, no one said farm life was easy, and that certainly holds true when it comes to maintaining does and keeping their milk capacity where you want it to be. We're small, so we haven't had many does freshen this year--only seven, in fact. We've still had our fair share of the fun with those thus far. Sometimes I can't even imagine doing this on a large scale, but I guess if it was my only job, and I had some additional help, it might be a little easier.
So far this kidding season--
First, because of the long winter and plenty of time spent by does in the barn, where we deep pile our hay for extra warmth, we had an issue with mites. I've seen the critters before, but this year was the worst ever! This is a new barn and much larger than the other barn, so I have to say I was a bit surprised, but then again, this winter was colder than the norm with several bouts of ice and snow. I'm thinking this had something to do with it. I noticed some 'dandruff' and a bit of scaly skin in a few of the does, especially those who were pregnant, so I treated what I knew was mites and/or lice. I thought I'd had it all taken care of. I was wrong.
A few of the girls developed a few 'bumps' or papules with the mites--mainly a couple of the does I was milking, and this might have been demodectic mange. According to Justin Talley and Dave Sparks, D.V.M, these papules contain more mites, are often found on the face, neck, and axillary regions, along with the udder, and can infect other animals:
|The goat follicle mite causes dermal papules and nodules [sic] and this resulting condition is known as demodectic mange in goats. These papules or nodules are caused by hair follicles or gland ducts becoming obstructed and producing these swellings, trapping the mites within these lesions. These continue to enlarge as the mites multiply, sometimes reaching several thousand mites per lesion... Nodules can rupture and exude mites [transmitting to the other animals]. "External Parasites"|
Dairy and pregnant/nursing animals seem to be particularly susceptible to the mites. I deduce it is because kids are nursing, we clip the udders (possibly with infected clippers), and udders can be exposed to more skin irritants hand/machine milking. This type of mange isn't the only threat! Another form of infection, chorioptic mange, also has similar symptoms with "formation of raised pustules on the skin, crusting, hair loss, reddening of the skin and eventually ulceration. These signs are first seen on the lower limbs, scrotum, udder and between the thighs. Rubbing and scratching is common" (Hutchens "Enough to Make"). Staphylococcal dermatitis--a secondary bacterial infection, often follows the infestation due to scratching, etc.
Some sources, including some discussion boards, say to 'pop' the papules (whether 'mange' papules or staph infection) since some do contain a pus-like substance. However, after witnessing the results, I do not suggest doing this. From my own experience, I noticed that those that had papules that I 'popped' tended to develop a much worse infection than the others; the action seemed to spread the infection, so I stopped popping and only treated. When left alone, the lesions seemed to scab over and heal very fast.
I try to treat holistically when at all possible; if natural medicine is not working, I refuse to watch an animal suffer, and I will treat with antibiotics and other medications, if necessary. I used lime and DE on the barn along with manuka oil, tea tree oil, and garlic on everyone. I also treated some with lime sulphur dip, which was recommended at a 4X treatment over a month long period by Hutchens ("Enough to Make"). However, one treatment of lime dip in addition to the tea tree and manuka oil seemed to actually clear up the problem. I did clip hair on those showing evidence of major infestation. Everyone cleared up fine with these treatments EXCEPT two does who seemed to have an allergy, perhaps, to the treatments. They did not respond well to the oils, and both worsened with lime dip and had more break outs. One really had an 'itchy' result on her udder and stomach area with many papules. Worried that this was a resultant irritation from the treatment itself, I did go ahead and use some Pen-G [for secondary bacterial infection, which was a probability], Chlorhexidine scrub [to destroy bacteria, fungus, etc], and topical antibacterial cream on these two does; this had immediate results--within 3 - 4 days, so it is very probable that the resultant irritation was probably due to secondary bacterial infection--possibly staphylococcal dermatitis. Thankfully, the whole herd is doing well now and recovering from winter's latent wrath. I did want to share my research and results in hopes that anyone else who is struggling can find some solace and aid with the problem.
*NOTE: I did treat with injectable Ivermectin when results seemed 'slow.' It was completely ineffective, and it seems to be noted that it often is when dealing with specific mites. I saw no changes whatsoever --even in a week's time, which should have been more than long enough for mite die-off. The key for removal seems to be killing, repelling, disinfecting, and treating secondary infection.
The keys to treatment:
1) Clean the barn-- keep it dry and destroy all infected bedding (burning is best)
2) Treat sleeping premises (I used lime and DE)
3) Treat ALL animals (see articles and choose your own method according to your herd management beliefs)
Milk Test Results so far
No one ever explains (before you go on test) that all of those 'little things' that drop production in your animals don't mean a thing when you are on test. While heats, illnesses, etc, are noted in CAR codes on DHIR tests as abnormalities, this doesn't change the overall results. One illness or low milk day (for any reason--even the weather!) can be enough to knock your animal out of the running for their star even if they are an excellent milker the rest of the time.
Bella --With all of the issues with the mites, we've had production drop some. I've sold Bella's kid, and with my work load, secondary bacterial infection from the mites, and issues with my carpal tunnel, her production has fell from her whopping 6.6 lbs a day to about 1/2 that. She is 4-00 with production at 43 lbs of fat, 30 lbs of protein, and projected production of milk lbs = 812 at this point in lactation (77 days). This has began climbing again with her infection clearing up, so I hope this amount does go up. She 'should' earn her star.
Sunnee -- Sunnee is doing well on test. She will be 'close' simply because I've had a lot on my plate and haven't milked exactly on schedule a few times, throwing her weights off a bit. I will make another post later with her weights.
Palabra -- Palabra is for sale for $350. She is on target to earn her star. The only reason I have her for sale is because 1) I own her mom; 2) I am retaining her daughter; 3) I also have several half-sisters.
Acorn -- for sale for $400. Acorn will probably not earn her star, BUT it is NOT her fault. It's her nieces fault, in addition to the mite issue, which reduced her production after the first test. Her numbers were going to be close, but then on the last test, Pistachio, her niece, escaped (you know the type--able to leap tall buildings in a single bound) from the pen on milk test morning and emptied her udder before the test! This ruined the morning test. She would have had over 3 lbs for the day, but instead only had about 1.5 for the whole day, partly because she likes to feed her kid, Karuka, through the fence. She's impossible to get a good milk weight on unless you have a very good way to separate her from anyone who wants to eat. :)
Palisade -- Kidded on Mother's day, so she will be on the next test. She already has her milk stars. 2*D 5*M