Hair Loss in Angora Goats - Nutritional CausesTuesday, 2nd June 2020
By Dr Mackie Hobson
It is well known that Mohair fibre diameter is directly affected by nutritional status and the fibre diameter of mohair is reduced dramatically during times of nutritional stress such as prolonged periods of drought. Other nutritionally stressed periods such as during pregnancy, lactation, or several weeks after an illness or fever can result in hair loss-this hair loss is non-inflammatory (unless a secondary skin infection develops)
Studies in sheep (Rcheulishvili 1980) more than 70% of the lactating ewes suffered from alopecia (loss of wool/hair). He suggested that it was not a metabolic disorder in the hair follicles, but a lack of nutrients when the need of the ewe was at the highest during gestation and lactation.
The loss of hair in Angora Goats has occurred on farms from time to time. These cases have been investigated through a clinical examination, skin scrapings (microscopic examination and culture), skin biopsies and blood samples.
In the suspected nutritional cases where ectoparasites as a cause had been eliminated and culture and microscopic examination were negative it was interesting to see that the biopsy histopathology reports were almost identical (n=3).
- Hair follicles arrested in either telogen or catagen phase, large amount of hair was missing from multiple follicles – likely poor nutrition or hormonal causes
- Flame follicles were abundant which indicates hair cycle arrest which again may reflect poor nutrition.
- Some hair was broken.
- There was NO indication of an inflammatory response
- NO indication of an infectious cause.
The mineral analysis were also very similar and indicated:
- The Copper (Cu) levels to be low on 2 of the farms 0.7 and 0.8 and normal 0.91 on the 3rd farm. (0.8-1.2 ug/ml being the normal range)
- The Magnesium (Mg) levels on 3 farms were found to be low 0.82, 1.03 and 0.95 (1.15-1.48 mmol/L being the normal range)
- The Zinc (Zn) Selenium (Se) Calcium (Ca) Phosphorus (P) Iron (Fe) Sodium (Na) Potassium (K), Chloride (Cl) levels were all
Impact of Magnesium on hair growth?
There are no scientific studies to indicate what the impact of Magnesium on Mohair production is? However it is well known that magnesium helps with protein synthesis. Since hair follicles are made almost entirely of protein it may play a role? Better protein synthesis means healthier hair and a predictable hair cycle with normal growing and resting stages which the histopathology reports was not the case on the farms where the biopsy samples were taken.
Impact of Copper on hair growth?
Low Copper may result in brittle hair which was confirmed on the biopsy results (Some hair was broken).
Low Cu can cause a goat's hair coat to be rough with a "bleached out" appearance. The formation of a ‘steely ’ fibre (mohair) where the crimp is lost and the hair breaks easily can be seen.
It is interesting to note that high Calcium (Ca) and high Sulpher (S) associated with goats fed lucerne were normal. High levels of Ca and S will suppress Magnesium (Mg) Selenium (Se) levels and decease Zinc (Zn) availability. Mg levels were low on all farms, however Se and Zn levels were normal.
For more info on Cu deficiency see https://www.angoras.co.za/article/copper-deficiency-in-angora-goats#307
Other potential mineral and vitamins affecting Mohair growth?
- Zinc deficiency
Angora goats need high levels of Zinc because of the role it plays in fibre production. Research articles indicate where this has occurred in goats it was found to be mostly around the head, neck, flanks, perineal areas and lower limbs. The hair thins in most other areas. The skin is often dry and scale and looked dull and shaggy. The hair can be easily pulled from the skin.
What causes a reduction in Zn?
- Excess Calcium in the diet. Lucerne is high in Calcium which suppresses Zn uptake – antagonist
- Periods of drought conditions
- High parasite burdens
- Periods of physiological stress such as pregnancy, kidding
What are the clinical signs of Zn deficiency?
- Hair loss
- The hair can come out in patches and goats may become bald.
- Thinning of coat, dull light fleece that can be easily pulled out at skin.
- Hair becomes brittle and straight
- Hair loss often more around head, neck, flanks, lower abdomen ,legs and perineal areas
- Goats may want to eat, bite at hair of other goats.
- Parakeratosis, where the skin becomes dry, scaly and thick.
- Abnormal hoof growth, stiff joints and lameness.
- Abnormal stance, arched back
- Can get excessive salivation.
- Reduced libido in rams, small testes and low sperm counts.
- Poor appetite
High dietary intakes of Ca and S in lucerne reduces Mn, Mg, and Se absorption and reduces the availability of Zn which forms a high proportion of the Angora goats diet during periods of drought of intensive farming systems raising the goats on Lucerne. Therefore Mn, Mg, Zn and Se supplementation is often advised under these conditions.
- Vitamin A deficiency
Vit A deficiencies can create a rough, dry coat with a shaggy appearance and dandruff.
- Iodine deficiency can cause hair loss.
- Selenium excess can also contribute to hair loss. For more info on Selenium see the SAMGA website https://www.angoras.co.za/article/selenium-supplementation#232
- Vit B12 and Cobalt deficiency. Younger goats, especially weaned kids can be more susceptible to deficiencies. This can cause reduced appetite (poorer growth) and reduced mohair growth.
See article on SAMGA website for more info https://www.angoras.co.za/article/cobalt-vit-b12#306
The importance of specific nutrients affecting mohair production has not been established in Angora goats, apart from one study showing that mohair growth responded to parenteral supplementation with methionine.
Methionine (Met) is an amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. The main function of methionine is to provide cysteine for mohair protein synthesis.
For more information on Methionine see the website
Also see the impact of nutrition on Mohair production
Dr Mackie Hobson