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.