I'm looking for ideas for natural treatments I can try for lice on my sheep. They are freshly shorn, so it should be easy to apply something topical. I would love to avoid harsh chemicals that parasites can build up a resistance to if possible.
I had an adult dog come to us with lice. The first thing I tried was a diluted tea tree oil spray, but that only aggravated the whole area. Her skin became red and angry looking. So I used DE which worked beautifully. She was lice-free in no time. It's also a less expensive way to treat the lice.
This spring has been a terrible one for ticks here; our sheep were covered in them. Looking through a book on organic veterinary treatment for dairy cattle, one oft-repeated treatment for external parasites (such as ticks and lice) was sublimed (powdered) sulfur. I think we ended up feeding something like 1/4 tsp per head, mixed into alfalfa pellets and molasses, and it has done wonders with just a one-time treatment. I think a topical treatment would work as well.
Whenever we move our goats and sheep to a new pasture, we lead the chickens into the old one. Not all of our pastures are suitable for the chickens and we’ve noticed that where the chickens have been, they have done a great job of reducing the number of ticks our animals (and us) pick up.
The Natural Fibre Company, where I send our raw Angora wool to be spun, will not accept fleeces with any traces of pesticides. Obviously we like our animals to be parasite free and comfortable and to begin with, at shearing time, we removed ticks by hand and threw them over the shed wall to the chickens. Gradually, when the chickens heard the shearing machine, a few of the older hens rushed up to the shed for their treats.
Little by little, we encouraged them to come into the shed and peck the ticks off the goats themselves. (They are much better than I am at that job !) Once the ticks are gone, they then begin to peck off lice with as many as five or six chickens working on a goat at any one time.
This part of the process took some time but thankfully, Angora goats are very calm animals and they now stand patiently after they have been sheared to allow a group of chickens to groom them. We keep the goats in for a few days after shearing and each morning the chickens start work on the goats as soon as we open the shed door.