Welcome to my blog - a diary about living with donkeys, notes about care, my training sessions and the absolute pleasure of donkey companionship.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Doing fecal floats & the world of internal parasites!

I just spent an intense couple of days with two biologists, currently working in Vancouver in parasitology.
Wow - do they ever know their stuff!

We studied the various egg and larval stages of livestock parasites, focusing particularly on those affecting  equines and ruminants. Then we moved on to the lab portion of the workshop, calibrating microscopes and using various methods to float eggs from fresh manure samples that we had brought.

I have been doing fecal floats for the donkeys for several months now and had all sorts of questions.
Now I feel much more confident in being able to identify the "artifacts" (plant material, including pollen)
and the parasite eggs of strongyles, ascarids and tapeworm.

The thinking on deworming has really changed during the 10 years that I have lived with donkeys.  It used to be recommended that you deworm everyone in your herd approximately every 60 days according to the calendar and that you use a different product each time.

Now this is outdated, as it has been realized that:

1. Chemical dewormers completely alter the body chemistry, killing all of the beneficial bacteria in the body,
possibly contributing to ulceration of the stomach or intestines.

2. Not all animals are susceptible to parasitic infection, there are "low shedders" medium shedders and heavy shedders in every group of animals.

3. Deworming with frequency sets up resistance to the drugs which are then ineffective.

4. A small numbers of internal parasites is actually fine and even helps the animals to develop an immunity.

So it makes sense to do simple fecal floats on each animal, several times a year and then deworm only the animals that are carrying a parasite burden that is over the recommended minimum.  It may even make sense to offer some non-chemical support in the form of herbs or homeopathy, in the hopes of further reducing the need for chemical dewormers.

You'll need a binocular microscope and a set of McMaster slides from www.vetslides.com, a floating solution (I use Fecasol which is sodium nitrate.)

I find it very interesting to investigate the world of internal parasites and to know what's going on with my donkeys!

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