cow cooties? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

My 5 year old dairy cow has recently started rubbing her neck on the side of the barn and today I noticed she was bald in a few areas. Is this lice? Or dry winter skin? My thought is lice, if so how can you SAFELY treat it she is lactating and pregnant and I really don't want to use any harsh chemicals. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance. cara lewis

-- cara lewis (, February 22, 2001


Could be ringworm. Is there any kind of crusty stuff or is it just bald skin? Ringworm can be kind of hard to get rid of (its actually a fungus). Contagious too - you can get it so don't touch the lesions if you think thats what it is. Iodine applied to the lesions is one treatment and I've had good luck with tea tree oil.

-- Amy (, February 22, 2001.

Hi Cara, is this on her neck where she cant lick? Does she have any other cows to do her 'grooming'. If she is infested with some insect or other you may get satisfaction from a simple treatment my mum used on our house dairy cows.

She heated up a pot of mutton fat, although I guess other animal fat would be just as good, not too hot just fully molten then poured this over the cow, mostly along her back bone. The cow licked it all off and I guess the critters were licked off too. Certainly not likely to cause any nasty side effects.

-- john hill (, February 23, 2001.


Sure sounds like lice. My cattle do the same thing in early spring before being brought in for vaccinations. If you can take some scrapings, take them into your vet. They can tell you quickly what it is and give you a treatment suitable for her.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, February 23, 2001.

thanks for the replies! She is an only cow and the spots are up on her neck where she can't lick, just below her collar. They are bald spots, no crust and they don't look like ringworm. Would a treatment of mayonnaise work like they say works on human lice? cara

-- cara lewis (, February 23, 2001.

This really sounds like lice to me also. There's biting and sucking lice. Using a magnifying glass you can sometimes see biting lice moving about. Sucking lice bury their mouths into the skin and take long meals. Also look for eggs (nits) attached to hair follicles. If there is a lot of rubbing and scratching and clumps of hair on fence posts, it's probably lice. The lice get on the cattle in the fall when the weather turns cold and really make themselves known in mid to late winter when you start noticing hair loss. When the weather turns warmer the lice problem usually goes away.

When I bought my calves I didn't realize they came with lice! It was made evident though, right around this time of year, when I noticed some bald spots on both calves and a lot of itchy behavior. The fellow I bought my calves from never wormed his cattle, and I imagine that each year his cattle suffered with these little varmints. Our vet recommended Ivomec (ivermectin) pour-on dewormer which also controls lice, mites, grubs and hornflies. This worked great for my heifers. You just pour it on along the back ridge line from neck to tail. They make a type of Ivomec called Eprinex for dairy cattle which is supposedly safe and calls for no milk withholding. (I would ask the vet about this though.) If the more natural methods other folks are suggesting work, all the better, especially for a pregnant cow.

Supposedly cattle lice don't infect humans, but I've read reports to the contrary. So I would be careful if you are milking this cow not to rub up too close.

-- Barb (, February 23, 2001.

Well everyone else seems to think it is lice. Is the rubbing excessive like she is really bothered or is she just enjoying a good scratch to excess? Ever had a dry itchy spot you just couldn't quite reach? Remember how good it felt once you finally reached it somehow? Cows love to scratch.....sometimes they take off some hair while they're at it. I've seen them reach their heads through barbed wire and move back and forth just so they get a double scratch. This is the time of year for dry itchy skin and it wouldn't surprise me if this is the case. I'd check your cow close to the bald areas for lice just to be sure. It is pretty easy to spot. Lice attach their eggs to individual hairs. They are whitish and are very hard to scrape off(this is how you can tell it is lice eggs and not just a flake of skin). I'm a barber....once you see lice you can't mistake it for anything else. I did have an experience once with a type of wart that forms along the neck or face. Sometimes the hair will fall off a spot and then it becomes...well warty looking. Looks horrible. Not much you can do for it will go away in it's own time. Good luck!

-- Amanda in Mo (, February 23, 2001.

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