Mange in cattle is caused by mites. There are three species of mite that affect cattle in the UK:
- Surface mite (Chorioptes bovis)
- Burrowing mite (Sarcoptes scabiei)
- Psoroptic mange mite (Psoroptes sp.)
The surface mite is the most common.
The first cases of psoroptic mange to be seen in Great Britain since the 1980s have recently been diagnosed by the VLA. Psoroptic mange is caused by Psoroptes sp. mites and although the mites are of the same species as those causing scab in sheep, they are not transferable between species.
Mange mites cause irritation, thickened scaly skin, hair loss, hide damage and reduced productivity. Different mites are commonly found in different body areas as follows:
Surface mite (Chorioptes bovis) – usually found on the neck, legs, and tail head causing areas of hair loss which increase slowly in size and cause irritation. Hide damage can occur as cattle rub the affected areas.
Burrowing mite (Sarcoptes scabiei) – usually found on the neck and the loin area next to the tail. Burrowing throughout the skin, these mites produce intense irritation and severe skin damage, with large areas of skin becoming thick, crusted and eventually infected. This can result in reduced productivity.
Psoroptic mange (Psoroptes sp) – usually found along the back, shoulders and tail head of cattle, causing severe dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), scabs and intense itching. Bacterial infections of affected areas is common, leading to bleeding and crusting. Production losses and even death can occur, if skin lesions are extensive.
Mange is mainly a problem in autumn, winter and early spring as cattle are housed, with mites becoming less active and numbers reducing in the summer.
Itchy animals with thickened skin are likely to have mange. A vet will need to take a skin sample by scraping the skin to to confirm a diagnosis, especially if there is the possibility of lice.
Under a microscope, Psoroptes sp mites can be identified as oval with pointed mouthparts, legs that project beyond the body and jointed legs with funnel-shaped suckers.
In severe cases, crusting can make it difficult for products to make contact with the mites and scabs may have to be removed before treatment.
- Mange can be controlled by the use of injectable 3-ML products (use against sarcoptic and psoroptic mange, and aid in the control of chorioptic mange), 3-ML pour-ons (eg. Depidex® Pour-on) and permethrin based pour-ons (Flypor® is the only synthetic pyrethroid pour-on with a mange claim).
- It is important with all mite products to check which species of mites they are effective against.
- For severe surface mite infestation, an injection can, if necessary be followed by a pour-on treatment when the skin has recovered sufficiently. Please speak to your vet for advice.
- In the case of psoroptes sp. mites the vet should be consultedto discuss diagnosis and treatment as it is essential to ensure effective treatment of this damaging disease.
Treatment timing and advice
- In general two treatments of Flypor should provide control of cattle mange (sarcoptic and chorioptic), throughout the housing period.
- Always treat all cattle at the same time to prevent re-infection in the herd.
- Movement from infected housing should be avoided as burrowing mites (Sarcoptes scabiei) and Psoroptes sp. mites can live off animals and be infective for at least 12 days.
- Always dose accurately. Under-dosing can lead to the development of resistance.