How to get rid of ringworm in cows

Written by louise lawson
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How to get rid of ringworm in cows
Ringworm affects a number of mammals including cattle. (cattle image by Kevin McGrath from

Ringworm is a skin infection that plagues humans and animals alike. Caused by a fungal infection, ringworm is characterised by hair loss and dry, scaly patches of skin. Ringworm is common in people and domestic pets, but is also found in other species including cows. Ringworm is spread through skin-to-skin contact, so it is important to treat infected cows as soon as possible to prevent a herd-wide outbreak.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Rubber gloves
  • Stiff cattle brush
  • Antifungal soap
  • Bucket
  • Hose
  • 2 per cent iodine solution
  • Bleach
  • Rags

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  1. 1

    Examine your herd for signs of ringworm. Signs of ringworm include large patches of irritated, red skin and crusting. A typical ringworm infection in cattle will produce large, rounded patches of bare skin covered in grey, crusty scaling. Ringworm is often found behind the ears and along the back and legs of cattle, so check over each cow carefully.

  2. 2

    Brush the affected areas of the cow's skin with a stiff cattle brush to remove the crusty scales and expose the infected surface for treatment. Wear a pair of rubber gloves to prevent the possibility of contracting ringworm yourself.

  3. 3

    Wash each affected patch of skin with an antifungal soap. Add 28.4gr of soap to a 1-gallon bucket and fill with water. Dip your brush into the soap and scrub the infected areas well to remove any remaining dead skin. Rinse with plenty of clean water from the hose and allow the spots to air dry.

  4. 4

    Coat each spot in a thin layer of 2 per cent iodine solution after washing. Iodine is a powerful anti-fungal that will help speed healing and prevent the sores from becoming infected. Repeat the iodine application on a daily basis until the skin no longer appears crusty and the hair begins to grow back.

  5. 5

    Disinfect any surfaces the cow may have come in contact with. Add 1 cup of bleach to 5 gallons of warm water to prevent further spread of ringworm. Use a rag dipped in the bleach solution to wipe down any fencing and gates that your cattle may have rubbed against. If your cows have ringworm spots on their faces, disinfect feed receptacles and water pans to minimise new infections.

Tips and warnings

  • Ringworm may be unsightly, but it rarely causes serious health complications. If only a few of your cows show signs of infection, you can just leave them alone and the spots may heal without treatment.
  • Ringworm is highly contagious and can be easily transmitted to humans and other animals, so don't treat infected cattle without protecting yourself first.

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