DIY goat poop worm analysis
As with our bees, I hate
the idea of pumping chemicals into our goats unless I'm positive they
have a problem with worms. The solution to this dilemma is what
scientists euphemistically refer to as a fecal exam and what I call a
goat poop analysis. Basically, you're looking for eggs of the parasitic
worms that give your herd such a hard time, then you use the number of eggs to decide whether to deworm.
"Okay, Anna. You just lost me," says the random reader. "How am I going to see microscopic worm eggs, let alone count them?"
gentle reader, I'm glad you asked! It's pretty simple --- first you
follow your goat around staring at their butt until they poop. Next, you
gather three fresh pellets and mash them up in a solution of water
saturated with epsom salts. Then you strain out the non-microscopic gunk
using a clean rag and pour the remaining liquid into a test tube. Fill
the tube to the brim with a bit more of your epsom-salt solution, place a
cover slip on top so it's fully touching the liquid, wait 20 minutes,
and the worm eggs should float to the surface and adhere to your cover
slip. Then it's just a matter of examining the resulting slide under a
microscope to see if you find any worm eggs.
(Yes, I glossed over a lot of factors in that paragraph. This website contains the most scientific and, at the same time, home-user friendly explanation I've run across.)
The biggest problem I've
had with this experience so far is the obvious --- the watched goat
never poops. The easiest way to get your goat to defecate on command is
to wait until she stands up. The trouble is, Artemesia is such a people
pleaser, she jumps to her feet as soon as I step out the door. So I did
finally get some pellets Thursday....but they came from Abigail.
I figured I'd go ahead and try my hand at analysis anyway, even though Abigail's not the one I'm worried about. So I wasn't surprised that I didn't find anything I was sure were worm eggs. (This site
has some good images of various goat intestinal parasites. But,
basically, you're looking for ovals with circles inside.) Instead, I
mostly found lots of debris, one colony of what I think is probably
bacteria, and a few of what I think are probably plant cells that didn't
get entirely digested.
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Now I just need to watch
Artemesia's butt a little longer and see what I find in her poop. In the
meantime, I've increased her concentrates in case she's anemic because
of growing kids instead of intestinal parasites. And I'm also taking the
time to sit with her while she eats so Abigail can't bully our first
freshener out of the last of her ration. Here's hoping by the time I
catch some fresh pellets from our darling doeling, Artie will be in peek
health and my anemia scare will be a thing of the past.