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Farm Animal Practice Faecal egg count testing is a crucial tool for any parasite management strategy


Faecal Egg Counts

With wormer resistance prevalence and global temperatures on the rise, gone are the days of blanket treating all animals with wormers at certain points of the year. Faecal egg count testing is a crucial tool for any parasite management strategy, be it for large commercial herds or a small number of pets in a paddock!

With our on-site labs we can provide NEXT DAY results for all types of faecal egg counts.

See below for the best way to maximize the use of faecal egg counts in your animals and what samples to take from who and when!

To ensure we accurately gauge the number of worms that a camelid is infected with, we need to do a faecal egg count to see how many eggs these worms are laying. The method used to do this in sheep (McMasters) is not sensitive enough as it only detects to the nearest 100 eggs per gram. The method we use in camelids (Modified Stoll’s) detects eggs to the nearest 5 per gram meaning that we can give you a much more accurate picture of the worm infestation that your camelid has.

The added benefit of doing a Modified Stoll’s FEC is that we can detect the dreaded Eimeria macusaniensis. This is a highly pathogenic (disease-causing) coccidia which is always significant when detected and requires prompt treatment, especially if there are pregnant dams or cria grazing the pasture.

In general, it is recommended that individual samples (as opposed to pooled samples) are tested for camelids. If this is unfeasible due to the number of animals you have, consider testing thinner animals or those that are particularly young or old within the group as ‘sentinels’.  

When to do faecal egg counts?

The main risk period for all grazing animals for worms is during the grazing season. This can be as early as March for young lambs at grazing so, as a rule of thumb worm egg counts should be done at 6 – 8 week intervals for all at-risk groups from March through to September / October.

At the end of summer the blood-sucking work Haemonchus becomes a risk for sheep, goats and camelids in particular. Doing regular faecal egg counting from August to October is essential if your animals have been diagnosed with this worm in the past.

Lungworm can also become more of a problem towards the end of the summer and so doing a specific test for lungworm during this period is important if you have had this diagnosed in your animals before or there is any coughing / respiratory signs in the animals at this time.

In autumn and winter liver fluke become a risk due to the wetter conditions. Faecal testing for liver fluke should be done for all at-risk animals in the autumn and again at the end of winter.

Each holding and even each group of animals will have their own risk of suffering from a parasite burden and while the above advice gives some guidance it is crucial that you discuss the specifics of your holding with a vet, either during your annual herd health planning session or at a specific parasite control plan discussion. Why not book yours today. 

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