Sheep and goats are important contributors to food production in Ethiopia providing meat, milk and income generation for the country. Skins are the most important items to generate foreign currency for developing countries like Ethiopia. However, the huge resource potential of sheep and goats populations of the country are constrained and threatened by compound effect of diseases, poor management and malnutrition. Parasitic skin diseases caused by ectoparasites such as mange mites, lice, keds and ticks are among these threats resulting in serious economic loss to the tanning industry and the country as a whole. The economic impact of ectoparasitism in Ethiopia is not well documented. Tanneries reported that 35% of sheep skin and 56% of goats’ skin are rejected due to external parasites, and out of the reject groups of the processed skin, about 80 to 90% defects were believed to be due to external parasites. The estimated economic loss due to drop in quality of sheep and goat skin is around USD 25.8 million per year. It also takes time before disease affected animals after treatment could return to their normal body condition. Currently, ectoparasites are among major causes in decreased production, reproduction of these animals as well as leather quality deterioration, down grading and rejection of skins. As many as one-quarter to one third of all skins processed at tanneries in Ethiopia have various defects and are unsuitable for export purposes where most of these defects occur in the pre-slaughter stage of production while the animals are alive and are directly related to parasitic skin diseases. Information available so far in Ethiopia indicate that parasitic skin diseases of small ruminants are widely distributed in different agro-climatic areas, causing serious economic loss to the farming community, tanning and leather industry at large, seriously hampering the income generation and foreign currency flow to the country. The extent of the problem has increased continuously during the past few years, threatening the small ruminant population, health, production and reproduction that warrants cost effective control measures.
Key words: Control, Ethiopia, ectoparasites, small ruminants, tanning industry.
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