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doing your own fecal checks for parasites

 
Leah Sattler
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I know many people wish to raise their animals more naturally and avoid the use of anthelmentics and drugs if possibe. Most people think having vet out or taking their critters in to one is the only way to determine the animals parasite load. For livestock owners this isn't economically an option and they practice blanket worming. That is worming the entire herd on a schedule. This worms animals that don't need it and opens the door for parasites to develop resistance (a huge problem in goats) I have been doing fecal tests for parasites myself for a few years now and it is really easy. A 100$ microscope some slides, cover slips and beakers and I was on my way! I just want to encourage people to make the leap!

little kids love to help and it is a great learning experience for them also! My daughter always has the job of poop collector.


 
Susan Monroe
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They are simple to do (I've done thousands).

Here's a nice little article on how to do it.  http://fiascofarm.com/goats/fecals.htm
It's aimed at sheep and goats, but the method is mostly the same for all animals (sometimes direct smears are used).  It also shows photos of the different parasites.  If you want to do it for other animals, you'll have to find the specific photos, although many are similar, there may be differences that could throw you off the diagnosis.  Most types are 'host specific', meaning that they usually only inhabit dogs or cats or goats or reptiles, but this is not 100% true.

And here's another site:  http://www.microscope-microscope.org/applications/animals/fecal_analysis.htm

Much of that equipment can be gotten for cheap (or at least reasonable) at American Science & Surplus, including the microscope.

A few tips: 

1. You really do need a good flotation solution.  Plain water just doesn't work.  Mixing in more poop is not better. A quarter to a half of a teaspoon is usually enough.

2. Always use FRESH fecal samples.  I can't emphasize this enough. If it's more than two hours old, wait for something fresher. Moist is not the same as fresh.  In older samples, the eggs may have hatched, and you go to all that trouble just to get a false negative reading, and you think your animal is parasite-free, and it isn't.

3. If you're using a poop sample picked up off the ground, that is fine, as long as it's fresh, AND you know for certain which animal produced it.  If you're doing a sample on an animal that isn't easy to handle, just cage it on newspaper or other CLEAN flooring until it produces a sample.

4. After the sample is run, be sure to wash all containers THOROUGHLY with warm soapy water, and swab out the test tubes well.

5. As far as I know, there is NO wormer for any species that will kill ALL internal parasites.  That's why you have to accurately identify the parasite.  If you're not really sure, bite the bullet and take a fresh sample into your vet.  Some kinds look like other kinds, except for the size.

6. Sometimes you will have to run several samples before you get a good reading.  Some parasite eggs are so heavy that they sink in the flotation solution instead of rising. Tapeworms are bad for this, which is unfortunate because they're so common. Sometimes visual identification of the tapeworm segments near the rectum or on the hair is more reliable.  If you see the segments (like flat squashed cooked rice if they're fresh, or tannish dried rice if they're dry). Fresh ones can be seen to move sometimes, and the cat ones are quite large. Sometimes the segments are connected together.

7. Giardia is apparently a real pain to find sometimes, and you may need to do quite a few samples to find it. Sometimes direct smears help.  Even vets can suspect it and can't find it in multiple fecal exams.  Then, they will often suggest medicating for it, anyway. 

If you suspect Giardia, you'll need to work with your vet. There are two meds used to kill it, and I'm sure that both are prescription-only.  Any good vet will want to verify your diagnosis before he prescribes it.  If I were you, I would take the SLIDE in for verification (there's no reason to pay to have them run five samples to find it); put it into a small rigid container -- upright -- and refrigerate it until you can get it to your vet, which should be ASAP, before it hatches. Giardia can be carried by virtually any mammal on the face of the earth, and opossums (our only marsupial), too. 

If you have rotating pastures for your ruminants, consider running some chickens after them. The chickens will kick apart the droppings and eat anything they find inside, helping to break up the worm cycle.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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well said sue! Although I want to point out that the only thing large enough for a chicken to see and eat (parasite wise) in ruminent manure are tapeworms which by the way are not of particular consequence in ruminents, just gross. Some people seem to be under the undrestanding that the chickens pick out the worm eggs and that just doesn't happen. getting the manure scattered and dried may help reduce the numbers of eggs that hatch though.
 
paul wheaton
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Here is a space where I have one big question, complete with subquestions.

When it comes to worm control, salatin (a leader in eco/organic stuff) uses basic-H once a month.  And that's all.

My questions:  how organic is this?  What, exactly, does this do?  Reports are that it is exceptionally effective - is it?
 
Susan Monroe
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I've never heard of Basic H as a wormer. 

Where did you hear this?  Was it in one of his books?  If so, what was the justification?  Could it be something like those email hoaxes?

I've just spent close to an hour looking for WHY it would work, and nothing jumps out at me.  Why and how it would/could affect a tapeworm with it's head buried in the intestinal wall is a mystery to me.

I am wondering (IF he really does do it), if his other practices provides a pretty good parasite-free environment, and that's where not having worms comes from, rather than dosing with Basic H.

Now you've made me curious!  I think I'll keep on looking when I have more time.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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the onlyplace I have heard of it is for a deer farm that also reccomends a laxative period for deworming here are some of my thoughts. basic h is  a surfactant and will give you some nasty diarhea.  might flush some worms out but I am not doing that! second, if "mommy worms" don't think the enviroment is good for their offspring they will stop laying. (conversely , in goats at least, a phenomenon near birthing has the opposite effect, causing eggs to be laid in great numbers in response to the birth hormones to take advantage of the weakened mother and makes sure and there are lots of infective worms on the ground for the babies to pick up). so my point is that when stressed the parasites cease to lay and that can give a false negative reading on a slide (remember you are looking for worm eggs not worms). seems that the animal eating soap might convince the mama worms that its not a good time to spread their genes. especially for a rumenint using a surfactant as a wormer is a bad bad idea and is only used to save a goat from bloat (questionable anyway). you run the risk of smothering/killing all the bacteria that digest the food for the animal.

certainly as sue pointed out many people who are interested in natural parasite managent have managment practices that minimize infestation anyway. negative or low readings can be due to that, even though people claim it is due to their wormers effectiveness. this is the case with most of the herbal wormers in my opinion. I would rather use a targeted wormer on targeted animals. and I don't want to hear about effectiveness unless someone has some proof. if someone tells me they have 2 goats on ten acres of browse and that their wormer is effective I want to roll my eyes! (I try to restrain myself) I require my own proof. I have confirmed that Fenbendazole is truly worthless and that cydectin and morantal tartrate are effective.

there are plenty of "wormers are poisons" people out there and i understand their misgivings. but.....anthelmentics are formulated to be detrimental to worms not the animals. just as sprinkling salt on a slug is a poison to the slug but is something we relish on our food! The carriers for some of the wormers are a bit icky though. I am past the natural wormers phase. most of it is bunk or potentially more damaging than the targeted "chemical" wormers. liek the tobacco ideas. and even the wormwood idea.  Ideally I would be that person with 2 goats per ten acres of browse and that would be my parasite control program but that is just not happening now and I'm not going to set on my bum and pout. or well maybe just a little pouting 

I went and found the place I read about basic h as a wormer. here it is
http://www.deer-library.com/artman/publish/article_8.shtml
 
Susan Monroe
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I think that the biggest thing to prevent parasites (inner and outer), disease and other conditions (not including injury and accidents) is extremely basic:  good nutrition.

More and more livestock people (but not enough  :lol are learning that just having two or three types of forage is not enough.  There are some (justifiably) proud farmers out there who can count nearly fifty types of plants in their pastures.

The ones who know are starting by improving their soil to the maximum, remineralizing for crucial deficient or non-existent minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sulfur, boron, molybdenum, copper, iron, manganese, zinc and the trace minerals.

And this applies to human food, too.  If a necessary nutrient is missing in the soil, that nutrient will be missing in our food.  Just because a food can contain a certain mineral doesn't mean that it does.

There is a good video on basic soil improvement and remineralization by Neal Kinsey, titled "Hands-On Agronomy" that is very understandable.  He also has a book with the same name. Both are available in the public library systems, although you may have to ask for an InterLibrary Loan to get them.  Very worthwhile.  Also Pat Coleby's book Natural Farming and Land Care, which is very readable.

Without the soil we are nothing.  Literally.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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copper bolusing has proven to increase the resistance to parasites in sheep and goats and many producers use it, at least in the goat department. That shows that nutrition can play a big role. I'm slightly hesitant though because I'm not sure its been around long enough to weedle out issues that the copper might be causing with the absorption of other minerals. I feed a high copper mineral mix and mix in a hoof supplement that is in high copper and selenium to my goats and ponies.

http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/copper_wire.html
 
Susan Monroe
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Oddly enough, copper deficiencies are common in soils that are high in organic matter, although most soils are deficient, no matter what soil type, pH, etc.

From Neal Kinsey's book Hands-On Agronomy:

"Copper, Cu, is vitally important to root metabolism.  It helps form compounds and proteins, amino acids and many organic compounds.  It’s a catalyst or part of enzyme systems; it helps produce dry matter via growth stimulation, prevents chlorosis, resetting, and dieback.  In animal life, it is essential for catalytic conversion of iron into red blood cells, and an assist in tissue respiration."

And
"Severe copper deficiencies are most common on boggy soils, on those unusually high in organic matter.  Very sandy soils are also more likely to be copper deficient.  Slight deficiencies can occur due to heavy applications of nitrogen or potassium.  High soil pH and drought conditions intensify any copper problems.  Also, excessive levels can lead to serious copper deficiencies in the crop.  Copper can become the limiting factor in yield, esp in small grains like wheat, but also cotton, grasses, fruit trees, onions, spinach and members of the cabbage family."

And
"Copper is essential to chlorophyll formation, seed production, increasing sugar content, it contributes to better color and flavor, and helps increase storage and shipping qualities.  It increases stalk strength (with potassium and manganese), and helps to withstand higher rates of nitrogen without lodging."

And
"Copper – anything below 2 ppm means a deficiency.  5 ppm is excellent, but 10 ppm is not excessive.  Without excellent phosphorus availability, it is best to stay between 5 and 10 ppm."

And
"Copper, pound for pound, is the most expensive of all the nutrients required for crop production.  It is also the most stable.  Once the copper level gets built up, it doesn’t have to be built up again for long periods of time."

To tell the truth, I would be cautious in giving lumps of copper to my animals.  It's much safer getting it naturally.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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I agree. it bothers me that advice offered on many goat care forums and websites give blanket advice to copper bolus goats. in addition there is lots of blanket advice to give selenium and vit. e injections. people seem to have no idea how they can screw up their animals giving them will nilly injections and isolated minerals and nutrients. the margin of safety for selenium is narrow and the symptoms of toxicity are the same as the symptoms for deficiency. so these people are likely sometimes overdosing their goats on selenium, seeing symtoms of toxicity, think its deficiency and shooting their goats up with more!
 
Susan Monroe
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Yes, I can only imagine people doing that!  And of course, there's the if-a-little-is-good-a-lot-is-better people.  Farmers have been doing that for decades with their "chemical warfare".

I think it's most important for ruminents and humans to eat from properly mineralized soil.  Probably more important than we suspect.

I think it's best to get a good soil test, amend as directed, retest, and when you think you've got it right, test every year (at the same time) afterwards.  Nothing stays the same, esp soil.  It can be affected so much by excess heat, too much rain, too much other amendment that ties up something else.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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that is the opnly nice thing about my heavy soil. it doesn't leach minerals too badly. on the same subject as a-little-is-good-more-is-better. there are those people that when their critter has a little snot on their nose or a cough or worse a tummy ache they go give them a "a little shot of pennicillin and then they were all better". sheesh. I sold a goat this summer and she broke her leg a few months later. the owner called me, we got it splinted, 6 weeks she healed, splint came off, and surprise surprise the leg swelled up bit that night. She called me and said her freind said to start giving her pennicillin for the swelling and what do I think .  what the he*# is pennicillin going to do for swelling! I said look, she broke her leg BADLY (twisted 1/2 way around) does it surprise you that when normal unsupported pressure was placed on the leg that the tissue became a bit inflamed? give her some ibuprofen for tonight and check her in the morning. and please please please dont' give her any freakin antibiotics!!!
 
Susan Monroe
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Ah, antibiotics, the cure-all for everything from ingrown toenails to dandruff!

Actually, even giving ibuprofen (etc) often isn't a good idea.  There was a time (maybe they still do)  that horse owners would rush to give a limping horse butazoliden ('bute'.  Did they ever stop to think that the LIMP was better than NOT LIMPING?  Limping often means that that foot/leg/shoulder needs rest. Giving an anti-inflammatory drug encourages the horse to continue to walk on it, when it SHOULD be limping. 

A human who has just had a cast removed from a broken leg is encouraged to take it easy until those muscles get stronger, which will be a gradual process.

I have been reading that pain/fever remedies like aspirin and ibuprofen (and similar). that we tend to reach for when we start coming down with the flu, may not be a good idea.  A fever is the sign that our body is fighting the encroaching virus.  Some people are suspecting that using aspirin-type products inhibits the natural defenses that our body is gearing up to fight the invader.  It's just getting started, and the body takes the medication, reduces the body's ability to fight, and the cold or flu gets worse and lasts longer than if we didn't use the medication.

Two days ago, I had a headache, a stuffy head, a cough, and suspected that I was coming down with the cold that my sister and brother have.  I resisted reaching for the ibuprofen, and instead took some Echinacea and some of that zinc product Zicam.  Now, it could have been an allergy attack, but ...

We need to do more thinking about what we've got and what we should do before we take (or give) medications.  The knee-jerk reactions we've been trained into may not be best, after all.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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Horse owners(in my experience) still rush to the bute when their horse is hurt, now ketoprofin is common too. the bute is terrible for their stomach. some of the swelling can supposedly damage things more than the initial injury though and the anti inlfammatories can help reduce that. remember you can't execatly tell a horse (or any other livestock) to elevate the injury!  but it is certainly prudent to not make the critter so comfortable that they overdo it and injure themselves further. ]

I withheld have any formal conclusion in my mind on the NSAID thing and fever and this is why

chronic infllammation is thought to reduce the bodies immune defense so reducing inflammation could actually help boost the bodies ability. 

they also end to thin the blood which has other documented postive effects that might help fight infection directly or indirectly.

case for consideration. when I was nursing my daughter if I bumped my breasts hardly at all, the next day it would be  sore, the spot would be red and I would develop a high fever. I don't run to the doctor for everything and after some experience I realized that the bumping and resultant redness and soreness and fever were absolutley perfectly correlated 100% of the time. I hypothesized that the milk ducts would get squished and inflamed and that the fever was actually a response to the inflammation. I didn't have mastitis and I do not think it was a response to infection.  I have seen mastitis in goats it was not mastitis. in that case some ibuprofen in moderation fixed me up alot faster than if I didn't take it and I think it was because it increased the circulation and that promoted healing. 
 
Susan Monroe
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I suspect that inflammation and a virus would react differently to aspirin or ibuprofen. 

The fever of a virus would indicate that the body is fighting the problem, and since aspirin and the others will reduce a fever, they may be interfering with the body's reaction.

It's a pity that medicine isn't the exact science that doctors seem to think it is.  Not only do they not know all the answers, they hardly even know many of the questions.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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certainly possible but I think the jury is still out. Too bad more people don't realize that doctors don't really know all the answers. When I was pregnant just a tiny bit of research quickly revealed that the doctors were far more likely to cause complications then prevent them. everything from supplements to medications to actual interventions and diagnosis. They pretty much screw it all up for the preggos.
 
Susan Monroe
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I've heard things like that.

As I was getting my blood pressure checked prior to a visit, my old ob/gyn (now retired) came out of one of the exam rooms with a young preggo woman (you could just barely tell), and she was telling her: "The most important thing you can do for your baby is eat right and don't smoke".

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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duh! they really aren't particularly helpful. They insisted that I be induced and I told them I wanted to be induced a particular way (very legit) and not with oxytocin which is typical and most women say incredibly painful and drawn out not to mention they have to give you mega doses of the artificial stuff for it to actually work. far more than naturally would be produced. he said it wasn't approved for my situation. I basically cussed him out. he called me back and said he checked and was mistaken and I was thankfully induced the way I wanted which is a little pill that they put near your cervix that gets it to dialate. had to fight for everything from keeping an iv out of my arm to not wearing their stupid hospital gowns (they are instructed that the gowns make people more submissive and easier to work on). ok thats my rant.
 
Susan Monroe
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I think it's a combination of ego and ego.

It isn't possible for them to know everything, and if a patient does ask about it, it's pooh-poohed because they don't know much/anything about it. And if they don't know anything about it, it can't be very good.

They read about the new drugs, because the drug mfgrs make sure they get the info. So many of them just take the easy way and prescribe the new drugs.

I'm glad you stood up for yourself.  More people need to do that in all phases of their lives.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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one thing that was really scary was when I told him I was concerned aobut taking thee prenatel vitamins becuase of the high iron content becasue  I had a family history of hemochromatosis, no one close, but several great uncles. Never had sypmtoms or testing but it is a disease that definitly contraindicates the use of high iron supplements because it causes the body to absorb and retain too much iron trashing many of your organs, the treatment is letting blood (maybe they were actualy onto something way back when they thought bleeding people made them better), the doctor obviously had never heard of it and after stumbling over his words for a minute told me not to worry and just take the supplements that they don't hurt anything. BS.
 
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