There’s a natural way to repel external parasites, using sulfur.
Sulfur is an overlooked mineral, yet regarded by goat herders in the know, as an essential and effective aide in repelling exterior parasites such as ticks, mites and lice. Whether or not you have plans to take your herd out to forage, packing or a show, you will encounter external parasites.
A PARASITE DILEMMA
Spring typically ushers in the nasty battle with ticks, in many herds. Winter enables for uninvited lice and mites, to make a home on warm bodies, as they come in through infested hay. Living in the Midwest, we have always had ticks. But Spring of 2019, after a very wet and long winter, the ticks were particularly problematic.
A cool morning in early March, I noticed my herd sire limping on his front legs. After trimming his hooves and checking for any hoof rot, the limping continued. His rations were changed to boost any typical deficiencies and eliminate any overage affecting muscles, and hooves. After a week of supplementing, the limping continued. Then came the morning I leaned over to check his hooves again, and got a glimpse of the underside of his elbow. I lifted his leg and a scream plus expletives rolled off my tongue. His elbow pits were covered in mass of ticks. So thick was the mass, the skin was inflamed, and there was plenty of crusty dry blood from the bites. So much so that some of the tick were actually under the dry blood!
When I touched the area, my buck moaned. I knew he was in pain. The same was around his testicles, under his thighs, and all over the base of his ears and where he had been dis-budded, and along his back. This was the cause of his limp. I spent 4 hours that day de-ticking him. Which led to him having literally raw skin in the areas where the ticks were
concentrated. He must have encountered several nests in the woods over the past weeks.
AN UNEXPECTED DISCOVERY
After reading my reference books and doing some online searches I came to the conclusion on several key issues related to the tick problem and yucky coats that some of my herd-members seemed to have. I waited too late in the Spring to examine my buck and the rest of my herd for ticks. Had I started my herd on a sulfur protocol in their feed 30 days earlier, the opportunity for external infestation would have been curbed. Winter yields very little nutrients in the form of forage, and most of the hay is already several months old if not older. Supplementation with sulfur for healthier coats should have been implemented at the onset of Winter.
I also discovered keratin is a constituent of wool, hair, hooves and horns. Sulfur is high in amino acids particularly the amino cysteine, found in sulfur, which is beneficial for keratin production. Sulfur aids in the nourishment for wool, hair, hooves and horns. A soil test on our land and pasture done in February of the same year established that our soil was low in sulfur. I should have known to apply that onto my goats.
- Goats that are sulfur deficient attract a higher degree of exterior parasites such as lice, mites, and ticks.
- Selenium is also needed for a healthy coat, and cannot be assimilated without sulfur.
- Sulfur is essential for good digestion.
- Sulfur toxicity is a serious issue, understanding it’s uses is foundational. Read more on that here…..
Why wasn’t I already giving them powdered sulfur?
MIXING THE SOLUTION
During this period of time I noticed he was thin, and his coat, had over the winter lost it’s luster, become rough and brittle. A few of our other goats had the same ugly, scruffy coat and tick infestation. Others had beautiful coats, and having maybe one or two ticks!
A sulfur/lime dip was prepared, which I sponge bathed over his entire body. I sprayed my buck with an essential oil spray solution (any blends containing neem, tea tree, peppermint, rosemary, oregano, basil), and then let him dry off. I applied a healing balm on some of the larger wounds under his elbows and around his scrotum. Then he was dusted with sulfur powder. He was drenched with vitamins, and I boosted some key mineral intake such as copper, selenium and Vit. E. I also added 1/2 tsp. of pure food grade sulfur to his feed rations daily.
Everyday for the next 5 days, this process was repeated. Once his coat began to improve, I cut back on the selenium + E, and administered it only twice weekly. The dips were no longer needed after 5 days.
THE DE-TICKING PROCESS MADE EASY
Why do I de-tick? Some may say it is a waste of time, as they will get many more the same day! I thought the same as well. The shear pain of having one tick on me is a discomfort I can relate to. Having a hundred, fifty, twenty, ten, or even ONE especially on testicles, udders, eyes, or any tender area, is one thing I cannot ignore or fathom. But now they don’t get many more! They may get a few a day. As the sulfur intake is working, the tick population has been reduced significantly. I no longer run the risk of having an infected tick bite, that can provide a nesting spot for some nasty bot fly to add to my troubles.
1. When you stroke their coat, you can feel the protrusion of the raised area where the ticks are lodged.
2. Stroke the fur backwards to reveal the tick.
3. It is best to physically look carefully before you begin yanking skin, as it may be an old tick bite with just a scab and not an actual tick. If you feel a node from a bite but don’t find a tick, keep stroking, it may have moved someplace else nearby.
4. Whey you do find a scab, examine it closely. A normal scab should be somewhat flat. If it looks lumpy, crusty, bloody, there may be a tick lodged under the dried up blood! You may have to pull off the entire scab to reveal the state of the skin underneath.
5. Ticks always travel NORTH. So the tops of your goats head is a prime target. Which brings me to the point of horns, dis-budded horn and scurs. These are prime spots for tick infestations. Bucks typically do not like these areas touched, if they have a scur, that has been bumped or hanging loose. The bloody base of the scar will be a major feast for the ticks. The best you can do is spray it or pack it with sulfur powder to aid in the repelling process.
6. chart will help guide you as to where to be sure to look for tick feeding spots on your goat. They like to make nests on certain “hot” spots and tender areas of skin on your goats.
7. Every goat in my herd has their sweet tick spot so to say. They seem to get ticks in the same place regularly. I always check there to make sure no one is home.
8. They gravitate to warm skinned areas, and tender skin zones first, any fresh blood is also a tick magnet.
9. Some varieties of ticks are extremely hard to pull off. Other types come off with the stroke of your hand.
10. Always position your tool in such a manner that the entire head and body are removed. If not, you should extract the remainder of the head, so the bored skin does not become infected.
MORE SULFUR USES AND DE-TICKING TIPS
I put the entire herd on the sulfur powder protocol in their feed, to keep the ticks at bay. The really infested goats, had daily de-ticking, and spraying down with this sulfur/lime solution mixed with added essential oils. A little goes a long way! Those with lackluster coats got increased selenium, E and Omega with their sulfur in their feed.
It took 45 days for the goats with the most problems to finally develop enough immunity with the sulfur protocol, that now they can be easily de-ticked within a few minutes, versus an hour or more. The rest, maintained immunity and their coats grew even more beautiful.
Both bucks and does have an amazing sheen to their coat, it is smooth, and silky. Now the ticks have to find someplace else to lodge. Maybe to the pit of hell? LOL.
After using and struggling with regular eyebrow tweezers, I finally invested in real, functional “tick tweezers”. The results of ease of extraction, and securing the pesky creature without it slipping off – was a resounding success. Cutting back my work considerably. I am thrilled with the TICKEASE TICK REMOVER tweezers. I use these, and have several sets.
I selected these tweezers, as they are perfect for extracting ticks from difficult areas. Like areas around buckling horns, and scurs, and under does udders and between their teats. These are VERY sharp, so be cautioned! Please be VERY CAREFUL AROUND SENSITIVE SPOTS AND EYES!!!!
ESSENTIAL OILS & SOLUTION:
The premixed diluted solution of sulfur with essential oils I prepare and maintain in a gallon-sized jug. This way I can pour what I need in a container that can accommodate my sponge in hand. I can sponge bathe on the spot if needed. This sulfur solution can also be be used for spraying, as it is only 10% of what the manufacturer recommends for mixing a standard dip. When I use an actual full strength dip, I only use it for the time recommended by the manufacturer (not more than 5 days). This is the sulfur product I use to mix a solution of sulfur and lime.
When my goats are eating their morning rations, I try to use this time to examine them for ticks. It was not a welcoming task at first, and they fussed the first few weeks. They have now become accustomed to my detecting sessions and the process involved. I have a phrase that I have repeated to them, so they know what’s about to happen when my hands pass under their testicles or udders as I begin to lift their tails to peek at their private parts. YES you will find ticks parked there as well!
I just say, “Let’s get the tick tick.” That automatically puts them at ease, and they stand alert, trusting they’ll be aided by having a pesky, itching tick removed from an area they are unable to reach. Some of them even lift up their nose to the air and snicker, moan or smack their lips in approbation when I remove ticks from an area they’re bothered by.
LESSONS LEARNED, WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND
In search of a remedy to repel ticks, I discovered a tried and true method for repelling ticks and helping my goats attain beautiful luster-laced coats.
To maintain my sulfur + selenium + Vit. E protocol through the winter, for healthy coats.
Ramp up the sulfur spraying protocol and/or needed dips weeks before the ticks begin to emerge in the spring. This involves first using fresh garlic cloves top dressed on their feed rations. As garlic is high in sulfur.
Continue proper observations with sulfur intake, so as not to tip any goat into sulfur toxicity.
Confidence gained that when following directions carefully with the sulfur solutions, and food grade sulfur powder in the feed, one simply monitors their goat’s coat. Their coat provides sufficient observable results. Sulfur has been used for thousands of years for skin ailments. An ingredient I often use on myself when making certain skin balms .
Daisy is an accomplished photographer, website and business branding designer. When not designing, her days are spent herding the family dairy goats through woodlands and prairies of the Midwest, where she lives. Oh, also making and drinking kefir! An avid goaty, her latest pursuit is engaged in the research and restoration of pastoral goat husbandry, via blogging, and online coaching, through the website www.goatyourland.com and the growing international Goat Your Land Facebook group. Her studies of ancient cultures and natural husbandry inspired the rediscovery and restoration of classical pastoral husbandry as their primary mode of herd management.