Mites in horses: whether or not to shave off the feathers?
Tinkers, Frisians and other (cold blood) breeds are known for their beautiful and luscious feathers. But these breeds are also more susceptible to mites. And then comes the dilemma with a mite infestation; do or do not shave off the feathers. A subject that is much discussed. Read our vision on this in this blog.
Feathers keep the skin dry
The hair on the legs, also called feathers, has a protective function. The horse’s feathers prevent the skin from getting wet and dirty. If you look closely at your horse’s hairy legs you will see that the hairs on the skin are dry and clean and that the skin is dry. The skin oil ensures that moisture and dirt cannot penetrate to the skin. So even though the feathres seem wet and dirty, there is a good chance that the skin is still dry.
But what to do with mites?
Mites cause wounds, mudfever-like spots. These spots will stain and irritate. This irritation causes horses to bite their feathers, making the wounds bigger. These moist spots on the skin start to heat and become the ideal breeding ground for mites. A vicious circle that is difficult to break without drastic action.
In case of mites / mudfever/ wounds it is advisable to shave off (part of) the feathers. That way, air is added and wounds can heal better. The skin can also be treated better so that you get rid of a mite infestation faster. However, this is part of the total approach against mites and it is still necessary to apply other measures to treat mites effectively, such as limiting sugars and an internal treatment with Finecto+ Horse. View the step-by-step plan to treat mites in horses here.
Our advice: leave the feathers on, but shave as soon as there are problems
If horses do not have mites, do not suffer from mudfever or other skin problems on the legs. Then leave the feathers on, this provides natural protection against moisture and dirt. You can also see the hairy legs as a natural protector against external factors.
If your horse does have skin problems on the legs, shave the feathers (partly). It is often sufficient to only shave the affected areas so that air can reach and you can treat the wounds (for example with the Finecto+ Protect). But with severe mite infestation, it is recommended to shave off the entire feathers. Perhaps not the most beautiful, but the most practical and comfortable for your horse. Especially because mite eggs can still hatch a year later. That is why it is better to be very rigorous once than to muddle through every year.