Mites

Published 23 April 10

Infection by mites is commonly known as mange.

Mites have different habits and are classified as burrowing or non burrowing. Non burrowing mites are Chorioptes bovis and Psoroptes ovis/bovis  and non specific mites include harvest mites from pasture.

Chorioptes bovis is the most common mite on cattle. It is most frequent during the autumn and winter in housed animals, usually on the hind legs but also on the neck, head and tail head. It usually only causes mild hair loss but does cause irritation.

Burrowing mites  include Sarcoptes scabiei which are slightly larger than the burrowing mites. These intense irritation usually on the neck and lumbar region (colloquial term 'neck and tail mange').  Affected animals can become so preoccupied with the irritation that they eat less and secondary bacterial infections can also occur on the irritated areas.

The other burrowing mite is Demodex bovis and this is almost considered a normal commensal for bovine skin and does not usually seriously affect cattle and treatment is not usually necessary.

Diagnosis is by microscopic examination of skin scrapings, they cannot be seen by the naked eye.

Commercial treatments are available although Psoroptes may require off label treatment. Milk withdrawal periods for treatment are an important consideration for lactating cows and care should be taken when using these products.