boy looking through micrcoscope at fecal sample
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How to Test Your Own Fecal Samples

Why Do Your Own Fecals?

Knowledge of your goats’ parasite load is important in monitoring your herd’s health. All it takes is your goat kidding, or being under some sort of stress, combined with a rainy season and BOOM, you have a parasite bloom. A “bloom” is just like it sounds, a parasite procreation explosion that overwhelms your goat. This can easily lead to multiple fecal tests and re-tests as you get your herd back into condition. So knowing how to test your own fecal samples is an invaluable skill to save yourself time and money.

Materials

  • Microscope: any microscope, (even a a toy) with 4X, 10x and 40x power works
  • McMaster Slide – a reusable microscope slide, get the one with the blue lines (you can click the link for one)
  • A scale that weighs in grams
  • 2 plastic cups
  • Popsicle sticks or something to stir poopy solution with
  • 3 cc syringes or pipettes
  • tea strainer
  • 50 mL beaker to measure solution
  • Poop – always use fresh. [The easiest way to collect is to sneak down to the barn before everyone wakes up. Turn on the light and collect the droppings as they stand up. Second easiest way, rake out their stalls/barn with them around. They will gladly contribute to your quest for fecal samples.]
  • Float solution – For DIY float solution – Epsom salt and a beaker or jar

Makin the Float Solution

  • Add ¼ cup of Epsom salt to the jar, then fill with 6 oz water.
  • Shake/stir and let dissolve. 
  • Continue adding salt to the water over a 24-hour period, allowing it to dissolve each time. 
  • Once it no longer dissolves, and there is a lasting layer of salt at the bottom of the jar, your float solution is ready. 
  • This solution will last a very, very long time.

Preparing the Sample 

  1. Mash the sample of poop with your hand in the collection bag. 
  2. Place one plastic cup on your scale and tare it to zero. 
  3. Add the poop into the cup until you reach 2 grams
  4. Use the beaker and measure out 28 ml of your fecal float solution. 
  5. Add the 28 ml of float solution to the cup with the poop in it. 
  6. Let the poop soften, absorb some of the solution, and stir continuously with your stick until it’s as dissolved as it can be.
  7. Get the second cup, and place your tea strainer over the top of it.  Strain your fecal mixture into this cup. 
  8. Without allowing this mixture to settle (move quickly before eggs float to the top, we want them thoroughly mixed throughout), use your pipette or syringe to suck the fecal solution up and carefully squirt it into your McMaster slide. 
  9. TIP:  We want to avoid air bubbles as much as possible.  Tilt the slide forward when filling the chamber to help avoid this.  If large air bubbles are in the slide, you must empty, rinse, and fill it again.  Make sure the entire chamber is filled. 

Examining the Sample

You can see on the McMaster slide that it is a grid. These grid lines are positioned so that you under the 10x view on your microscope, it fits perfectly in view with one blue line visible on each side of your microscope viewing area. This makes it so much easier so that you won’t keep counting the same eggs accidentally.

Start in one corner of a blue grid on one side of the McMaster slide. Get the corner of the blue grid in view with the 4x magnification, and you can then move to the 10x magnification.  Under 10x, this is when you can see one box of the grid aligned within the microscope sight.  Slowly follow the lines, move, down, and across, and count each egg as you go.  Count the eggs in the first complete chamber, record your numbers, and repeat the same process in the second chamber. 

Recording Eggs 

Look at your egg ID chart and identify what you see. Always count each species individually. Keep a piece of paper close by to tally. You are going to calculate the egg counts for EACH species separately.

Your Egg Count

  • For each species, add the number of eggs in the first chamber and the number of eggs in the second chamber.
  • Multiply by 50. 

(Chamber 1 + Chamber 2) X 50 = EPG

*** Healthy parasite load is under 500 ***

Treat Your Goat

If any one species is above 500, you need to treat the your goat to help get it under control. Out of control parasite loads can actually kill a goat. So knowing what their load is and treating immediately could be paramount in your goat’s health.

Re-run Your Fecal Count

After one week, run another fecal exam and see where your load is. You can now see why its important to know how to do this yourself. Your load should be significantly reduced.

If you are treating your goats herbally and want to see a great way to have them gobble those herbs up, check out THIS article on how to make dosage balls that will have them coming back for more!

 Special thanks to The Giving Goat Natural Health & Blog for sharing this important information!

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