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you own fecal testing is not hard and it is a very useful skill to have
in caring for your animals. There is an investment you must make in
terms of supplies for this procedure, but these tools will pay for themselves
very quickly since you will no longer have to take your fecal samples
to a vet to find out if you have a worm problem.
of Parasite Eggs/Oocysts found in Sheep and Goats
Microscope with 4X, 10X & 40X power with a built
in light. You can pay a lot of money for a microscope, but if
you look around, you can find a good one for your purposes under
$100. I bought a brand new "student" microscope that
I find of excellent quality for $90. I do have to put up with
a little ribbing, since it says "My First Lab" on
the base, but really, this model is very far from a toy and
I highly recommend it. My father, who is a chemist, was quite
impressed with this microscope. It's called: My First Lab Microscope
by C&A Scientific. Click
here for more info.
cover glasses/ aka coverslips*- small, very thin cover
glasses fit on a slide, temporarily flattening the liquid specimen
Scale that measures grams.
gloves- Wal-mart carries these in the pharmacy dept.
Timer- Wal-mart carries these in the cookware dept.
measuring cups/beakers*- one that holds at least 30-50
ml, one that can measure 25 ml, one larger one that you can
strain into. It's real handy if the larger cup/beaker has a
pouring spout. If it doesn't you may need a small funnel.
Strainer - Wal-mart carries these in the cookware dept.
Sticks (small popsicle sticks) - Wal-mart carries these
in the craft dept.
tube * or glass vial that holds 20 ml- (16X150mm tubes
hold 20 ml)
Tube Holder * or hunk of styrofoam with a hole dug
out to nicely hold a test tube
I am very
exacting and scientific about how I do things; I feel this is
the only way to get accurate, consistent results. But, in my explanations
on this site, I also always try to keep things very simple and
understandable for everybody. The following is the procedure I
follow when doing my own fecal tests.
always keep careful, accurate records. Click
here for a record sheet that you can print.
view this file you must have the »Acrobat
Collect fresh poops/manure/nanny berries/fecal sample, whatever
you wish to call it, from the goat (or any other animal).
2) Weigh out
3 grams of poop. (I prefer to weigh the sample because you get
much more consistent results. 3 grams is about 1/2-3/4 tsp.)
3) Put the
poop in a small cup or beaker that can hold 30-50 ml and mash
it up really well with the craft stick.
add, while stirring, 25ml of floatation solution. Stir well.
5) Let sit
for 2 minutes.
poop solution into the larger cup or beaker. Press the poops really
well to force as much liquid out as possible.
7) Let sit
for 2 minutes.
9) Set test
tube in the holder, and pour the solution into the tube. Fill
it a little more than full, so the solution overflows slightly
(the solution should kind of stand up higher than the top of the
(In the photos
I am using a flat bottomed test tube called a "shell vial",
just because that is what I have. These are harder to find and
more expensive than real test tubes.)
place a coverslip on the test tube. The solution should touch
11) Let sit
15-20 minutes. The eggs will float to the top of the solution
and collect on the coverslip.
remove the coverslip by lifting it straight up and place it (wet
side down) on a slide.
Place the slide on your microscope. At 10X power, find a corner
of the cover slip to start at.
the slide by moving it slowly in an up and down pattern. It will
be hard to get the hang of it at first, because moving the slide
while looking in the microscope will be like looking in a mirror,
when you want to move the slide right, you really move it left,
when you want to go "up" and move the slide "down".
You'll get the hang of it with a little practice.
Start looking for worm eggs. You aren't actually going to see
worms, just worm eggs. (except vary rarely you may see a lungworm
worm). Every time you see a worm egg, make a mark on your paper.
The eggs are
small, so take your time and keep looking. You will see all sorts
of stuff in the poop (it is very interesting), but eventually
you will probably see a worm egg, and from then on, you will know
what you are looking for. You may see lots of stuff that looks
like worms, but remember that the goat eats lots of varied and
fibrous plants and the cells of these can sometimes look long
and wormlike. You are looking for oval shaped eggs. See
photos below. If you locate, what you think is a worm egg,
you can switch your microscope to 40X power to get a really good
look. (Be careful using 40X power, and adjust the focus very slowly.
When using 40X power the lens gets so close to the slide that
you can accidentally break the slide with the lens, this isn't
good for the slide or the microscope lens.)
will be air bubbles, probably lots of bubbles, so don't mistake
these for eggs. At first, you will probably think the bubbles
are eggs, but air bubbles are perfectly round and have very dark
edges and clearish and/or bright centers. Once you realize what
they look like, you won't mistake the bubbles and eggs.
When you are
done, count the total marks you've made, this will be the total
number of eggs you saw.
Now, the big
question, how many eggs can the goat have and be OK. How many
mean an infestation? ALL GOATS HAVE SOME WORMS, so, do not panic
if you find worm eggs in the sample, that is normal. There is
no shame if your goat has worms. You just don't want lots of eggs.
It's hard for me to tell you exactly what number is OK and what
number of eggs is bad. Every situation is different. A healthy
goat that has built up natural resistance to worms can handle
a larger wormload than an unhealthy goat. The goal is not to have
your goats be totally worm free, but just to maintain a consistent
low wormload, with the goat showing no signs of parasite infestation.
It this way, the goat builds natural resistance/immunity to worms.
I do not worry about anything under 10 eggs. If I count in the
teens, I still may not worry too much, depending on the health
of the goat. If I counted over 20 eggs, I would probably treat
the goat with a double dose of wormwood
wormer for 3 days.
When you are
treating your animals with chemical wormers, it is standard procedure
to identify the exact type of worm eggs, so that you are properly
treating with the correct chemical wormer (different wormers kill
different worms). But, since I use my own herbal
wormer formula, which pretty much takes care of every type
of worm, I don't get real technical or worry too much about exactly
which type of worm each egg comes from, and just count the total
eggs in each sample. If you are using chemical wormers, you may
need to research further the different types of worms and eggs.
NOTE: Be aware that you cannot always see signs of LUNGWORMS in a fecal sample, due to the fact that mature Lungworms reside in the lungs and not the digestive system. Your goat may have Lungworm and it not show up in a fecal sample (done either by you at home or even at the vet).
worm eggs look like:
Eggs/Oocysts found in Sheep and Goats
scientific name: Marshallagia marshalli
eggs usually leave the host within the tapeworm segments, hense
are seldon found in fecal samples.
scientific name: Dictyocaulus
filaria These eggs usually hatch before they leave the host
in the feces, so you may not always find traces of Lungworm
in the fecal sample, even if the goat does indeed have Lung
when looking for Lungworm in a sample that these eggs are much
heavier than the eggs of other species of worms. If your goat
presents other symptoms of Lung Worm (such as a chronic dry
cough) you can look specifically for Lungworm by adjusting the
focus of your microscope as you search to look "deeper"
into the various levels of the slide sample.
All in all,
these parasites are extremely hard to find in the feces, so
it is best not to rely solely on a fecal sample (even when done
by someone with a lot of fecal testing experience) to diagnose
that your goat has Lungworm.
like to thank Sue Reith for her help in correctly identifying these
parasite photos and also thank you for supplying me with more photos
to round out the collection.
to make your own floatation solution:
You are going to
make a "saturated solution", which means you are going to
put so much Epson Salt into some water that the water cannot take up
any more. This will cause the water/Epson Salt solution to become heavier
than just regular water, thus, the worm eggs will float to the surface
of the solution during your test.
Put some of the
Epson Salt in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Fill about 2/3 full
Shake the jar
Add more Epson
Over a 24 hour
period, keep adding more Epson Salt and shaking until you have a permanent
layer of Epson Salt in the bottom of the jar. No more Epson Salt will
dissolve in the water. You now have a saturated Epson Salt floatation
solution. Pour off the solution into another jar, leaving behind the
non-dissolved Epson Salt grains.
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