Doing Your Own Goat Fecal Exam

I did it!  I did my first fecal exam.  It’s something I’d been thinking about for a while.  I figured it would not take long for the equipment to pay for itself with the number of goats I have.  I looked at quite a few websites and most of the directions are really similar.    Here’s how I did it, and it worked well.


You need a microscope.  That’s the thing that really had me nervous because my eyes are not great.  I was afraid to buy one and then not be able to see.  Luckily, I know some science people and I managed to borrow one.

The article I read recommended a power of 40x, but the one I used was 32x.  It worked well.  I will certainly be getting one for myself.  I’ll probably get it from the company I ordered other supplies from, the Carolina Biological Supply Co.   You wouldn’t have to order actual science supplies if you are creative and can find similar substitutes.  You need a test tube that will hold about 12mL (these are 15), something to hold the test tube, microscope slides and slip covers.

You’ll also need a couple of small containers (I used 1/4 pint jelly jars), a pipette or eye dropper, some cheese cloth (Don’t use the coffee filter you see below because it doesn’t work.  You can use a tea strainer.), and an old spoon (I used a plastic one, but you could also use a popsicle stick).

Before you can start, you need to make a float solution.

Making a Float Solution

This is very easy to do.  I made mine in a regular quart jar.  Fill it about half full with warm tap water.

To the water add 1/4 cup of Epsom salts.

Stir until all the salts have dissolved.

You continue adding 1/4 of a cup of salts and mixing until you can’t get the last little bit to dissolve.  You’ll see a few crystals left in the bottom of the jar.

Let the solution sit overnight.  It will finish dissolving the last few crystals, and you’ll have a saturated solution of water and Epsom salts.  You’re ready to do your exam.

The Exam

First thing is to gather a fecal sample.  I started with Harley.

Aren’t we glad goats make those wonderful berries?

Place the pellets in one of the jars.  You only need about four or five.  If you have a goat with diarrhea, you can just get a handful in your glove.  If you aren’t immediately doing the exam, you can turn the glove inside out when you take it off and cut the finger to squeeze it into the container when you’re ready.

Add about 1/4 cup of the float solution to the jar.

Use your spoon or popsicle stick and smash the berries up.

This is the only part that even looks gross.

Cover the other jar with cheesecloth.  You can use a rubber band to hold it.

Strain the mixture through the cheese cloth.  It will leave you with a weak tea looking liquid.

Next, use the pipette or eye dropper to draw some of the mixture out of the jar.

Use the pipette to fill the test tube.

Keep filling until the liquid bubbles above the top of the test tube.

Then place the cover slip over the top of the solution and let it sit for about ten minutes.

After it has had time for any eggs to rise to the top, take the slip cover and place it onto the slide.

You might have to use your finger and press gently to get rid of any air bubbles.  Then you’re ready to put the slide under the microscope and see what you find.

In my first sample, I was lucky.  I actually found one coccidia egg and four or five round worm eggs.  It was enough to let me know that I did it correctly, but not enough to make me worry about my pretty Harley girl.

You can use a chart to identify anything you find.  The one I used was created by Intervet, the makers of Panacur and Safe-Guard.  They also have different directions for doing the worm check.

I printed it out and laminated it.  One of the other great sites I visited was The Biology of the Goat.  It has directions for doing the fecal exam as well as other great information.

Cleanup isn’t too bad.  I just started by swishing the cheesecloth in the toilet and dumping everything in the toilet before washing with dish soap and hot water.  Really the whole process was way easier than changing a dirty diaper.

I’m still in no way an expert, but I’m guessing that I’ll be getting a lot of practice in the weeks to come.

31 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. TexWisGirl
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 21:15:43

    one down, 66 to go… or something like that! :) the part i found most interesting is that you’re looking for eggs which must float to the top of the solution. learned something new! :)


    • Teresa
      Sep 02, 2011 @ 21:21:34

      It’s amazing how much I’ve learned since goats came into my life. I’m sure there’s some I would have preferred to live in ignorance of.


  2. Julie
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 21:16:26

    I have been seriously considering getting a couple of goats. You just talked me out of it! :-) The part about swishing the cheesecloth in the toilet did it for me. I remember changing my little brother’s cloth diaper and swishing it out in the toilet when I was a kid…. and then dropping it in the stinky diaper pail. Gak! I can’t believe that I did this without throwing a fit!!!


    • Teresa
      Sep 02, 2011 @ 21:25:10

      I would hate to think you were not going to get goats because of me. They are so much fun. The only reason I’m doing this is because I have 61 goats on my farm right now. With one or two, it would be silly to do it yourself. With a good worming program, you’d be very likely not to have to worry about it. If you do need it done, any vet can do the test. Really, you should not let this deter you from getting goats.


  3. Tayet
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 21:17:14

    Wow! That’s so cool! Fias Co Farm has a really good guide to it as well if you want to check it out. Good luck with your new project!


  4. Alica
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 21:32:35

    I’m impressed! You can add “scientist” to your long list of accomplishments! Your goats are so lucky to have you as their human (and you can tell Millie I said so) :)


    • Teresa
      Sep 02, 2011 @ 21:55:40

      I’m flattered. This is really out of necessity. I have to admit that I do love science. It’s kind of nice to be working with the science teachers this fall.


  5. Pondside
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 23:31:54

    The things we learn from blogs! You are a star!


  6. liesl
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 00:09:33

    You go Teresa! Wow,you are quite the goat farmer and saving yourself lots of bucks.


  7. Mimi Foxmorton
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 04:54:45

    Now see, I would have thought that you’d just smear a berry on a slide.
    Really interesting. And much gratitude to you for being our fecal pioneer! ;)

    “A good worming program.” Pray tell……….IS there one? lol
    I’ve not worried so much about poo since I got Darla.

    I do enjoy going to Fias Co. Some very good info.

    Thanks for walking us through this. Looking forward to following what comes next in your learning curve!


    • Teresa
      Sep 03, 2011 @ 07:29:53

      Glad to share the information. I swear my girls want me to know everything there is to know about goats. I’m not sure there is a good worming program because everything changes on me just when I think I’ve got it down.


  8. Nancy
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 05:37:45

    Congratulations, Teresa. This is quite the task, but I’m sure it will pay for itself in short order. It’s amazing what one can accomplish when the mind is set on doing!


    • Teresa
      Sep 03, 2011 @ 07:31:03

      It is much faster and convenient than trying to get a sample to the vet for them to do the test. Bless the people that make morning runs to the vets with a bag of poo in their purse. I’m sure they’re glad I’m doing it myself now.


  9. Candy C.
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 15:53:40

    Very interesting! Thanks for showing step-by-step how it’s done! Glad Harley got an “okay!”


  10. schoonoverfarm
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 19:11:50

    Congratulations Teresa! I have found that doing fecals has been really helpful in the parasite management of my flock. I use the Paracount-EPG kit which makes it super easy.


  11. Sandy
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 19:17:38

    I am beyond impressed! Really! Thanks for posting this its was very, very good niformation!


  12. Jen C.
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 07:28:09

    Hmm, so that’s how you do a fecal exam. It’s actually a lot cleaner (but still icky) than I had imagined. Being a city girl, I thought you had to smear fecal matter onto a slide and then look at it for worms through the microscope. This method is definitely less disgusting and sounds like a heck of a lot easier to clean :)


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  14. Anonymous
    May 18, 2013 @ 06:48:17

    Thank you fornyour detailed info…I have Boer goats and love them…its been a challenge to learn about them since we are just tapping into the meds used. If you are going to raise them its a commitment you must have..dont just throw them into a pasture ….


  15. Kristy Trahan
    Dec 27, 2015 @ 18:28:21

    How much do you think one of those microscopes would cost? I don’t exactly want to spend a fortune on something like that even though it would be very useful. I think my goats may be a little wormy right now, but I would like to know for sure before going spend a lot of money on the vet.


    • Teresa
      Dec 27, 2015 @ 18:44:12

      I found I could buy a nice microscope for what it would have cost me to do fecals through the vet for one year. Mine is more fancy than you would need. It’s been enough years, I don’t even remember what it cost.


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