Itching (Pruritic) Angora goats
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Wednesday, 12th January 2022

Observing a flock of Angora goats, a farmer will quickly notice if the goats are itching -rubbing their horns against their flanks, hind legs scratching, rubbing themselves against objects or the presence of hair on the horn tips.


What are the potential causes of this itching?

It is important to note that ‘Brandsiekte’  Sheep Scab (Psoroptes ovis), a common cause of itching sheep in South Africa, DOES NOT affect ANGORA GOATS. However, Angora goats must be considered a potential mechanical vector in the same way clothing, vehicles, and shears may introduce the mite to a farm.

See for more info on Sheep scab ‘brandsiekte’


  1. Lice (Red and Blue)

Lice are probably the most common cause of itching Angora goats. Two species of lice commonly found on Angora goats are red lice (chewing lice) which feed on the dead flakes of skin and secretions, and blue lice (sucking lice), which feed on blood.


Red lice


2. Ticks

Especially between the hooves and ears, but can cause irritation at various attachment sites.


3. Mites

  • Psoroptes cuniculi (Ear Mange) does occur in Angora goats. This mite usually affects the ears but can spread to the head, neck, and body and cause severe irritation.
  • Psorergates ovis is a common skin mite of sheep in many parts of the world. Psorergatic Mange (Itch Mite, Australian Itch)
  • Demodex caprae causes non-pruritic papules and nodules in goats, especially over the face, neck, shoulders, and sides. The nodules contain a thick, waxy, greyish material that can be easily expressed.
  • Chorioptes caprae can occur in goats. Papules and crusts are seen on the feet and legs.
  • Remember ‘Brandsiekte’ Sheep Scab (Psoroptes ovis) is NOT a cause of itching in Angora goats.


4. Dermatophilus congolensis

Dermatophilus congolensis is seen more in sheep where it causes ‘klont-wol’. Goats are NOT always itchy but can be.


In goats, it is often associated with wet hair from dipping or dew on pastures.

The infection is often seen as crusting lesions on the ear margins of goats.

Angora goats infection is usually associated with hair loss. Crusting lesions against the skin can be seen—flecks of yellowish-white to brownish grease or crusts.

Reddening (erythema ) of the skin

5. Bacterial infection. Caprine Staphylococcal Dermatitis

Staphylococcus is a bacteria usually found on the skin. Under certain conditions, when this skin’s defence barrier becomes compromised, the bacteria may invade the skin leading to dermatitis and pustule formation. A crusty exudate may result on the skin surface and lead to hair loss. The areas involved are often on the udder or around the anal area, but in bad cases, the hair loss may occur along the flank, back and neck.


6. Fungal infection -Ringworm ‘Omlope’

Affected goats generally lose hair in circular patches on the neck, ears and face. Ringworm is usually itchy. It is very easily transmitted by contact and mechanical vectors.


7. Hypersensitivity dermatitis

Certain plants can cause hypersensitivity dermatitis, as has been seen with Angora goats grazing peppadew lands.



8. Photosensitivity ‘Geeldikkop’

The head may become itchy, and the goat may try to rub its face.

This can be caused by  Tribulus Terrestris  (‘duwweltjie’ ) under certain conditions.

Other signs of poisoning include discharge from the eyes and nose, Laboured breathing, The skin becomes red, swollen head, Exudation, sloughing of skin 10-14 days after the poisoning, Coronitis (red band around the top of hoof develops) and Severe icterus.



9. Orf ‘Vuilbek’

Orf’ ‘Vuilbek’or ‘scabby mouth’ is an infectious viral disease of the pox virus family.

The virus affects goats of all ages, but kids are most susceptible.



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