Natural Treatment for Lice in Goats

Year after year, despite various changes in management, we would encounter lice in late winter and early spring in our goats. I found dealing with it incredibly frustrating since none of the effective methods were compatible with our goal of natural care. So each year I would resignedly use one of the powdered concoctions on them, hoping maybe next season I’d come up with a solution.

All that changed last year, in 2018, when I re-read Pat Coleby’s book Natural Goat Care, one of the few goat books I have that I recommend to people.  It finally clicked. In NGC, Pat talks about how important sulfur is:

“…animals receiving the correct amounts of sulfur in their diet will not get lice.”

For a problem that plagues many producers, that’s a pretty bold statement. There are so many products dedicated to eradicating lice that it’s hard to believe a simple mineral deficiency can be at the root of it all. In our experience last year, I came to believe that it is true. Here’s how we’re–finally–effectively treating lice in goats naturally.

Treating Lice in Goats Naturally: It’s All about Sulfur

In the book, Pat goes on to recommend 1-1.5 teaspoons of sulfur per day until lice are gone.  I’m a big fan of letting the animals decide what they need and not so much a fan of having to measure out amounts, so my method was simply to add MSM powder free choice alongside–but not mixed into–their minerals.  It was obvious from the outset that they were deficient and they gobbled it up for a few days before settling in.

In addition to oral sulfur fed free choice, I went to the feed store and got plant quality sulfur and applied that topically every few days for a couple of weeks.  You can pour it in an old spice container or dump it into a junk sock and sort of bop it onto them.  I like the spice container because I can shake-shake-shake up against the grain of their hair while I’m keeping them busy with grain or a favorite treat.

Between these two treatment methods, the lice disappeared and didn’t come back.  We’re looking good so far this year but I am going to add MSM powder (subscribe and save, woohoo!) free choice as a natural preventive for lice.

The more I learn, the more I truly believe all living beings can fight off just about anything if given the nutrition their bodies need.  If we can prevent disease through nutrition, we will reap the rewards generationally with improved health and longevity.

4 thoughts on “Natural Treatment for Lice in Goats

  1. Great advice! I discovered lice on goats after they’d been bred. Think it’s safe to use sulfur topically when goats are pregnant? I appreciate your help.

  2. Megan says:

    Absolutely. Sulfur is a vital mineral that is necessary to many body functions. If lice are a symptom of deficiency, it’s going to greatly benefit your does to have additional sulfur during pregnancy, so apply it topically but also get MSM powder and side dress their regular loose mineral with a small amount daily until they stop eating it.

  3. Helen Warren says:

    My goaties had lice when I bought them and I cannot get rid of it they have nits and scratch all the time we have watched them with Don we have treated him four times with the promethium nothing !
    Can’t find anywhere near that sells sulfur powder and to fed, how?

  4. Megan says:

    Lice is pretty common and part of goat ownership; it’d be more uncommon to *not* experience it at some point. You can use this sulfur topically as a dust instead of Permethrin but BE SURE to add MSM Powder as a loose mineral alongside their regular minerals because they need to increase internal sulfur levels. Do this and I expect you’d see a reduction or elimination within a week. If we treat nutritionally rather than chemically, we get to the cause rather than treating the symptom. Good luck!

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