What is faecal egg counting?

When animals are infested with internal parasites, the adult worms lay eggs which pass out in the animals' dung. By counting the number of eggs in the faeces, we are able to determine how large the parasite burden is.

Faecal egg counting can be performed on a mob of animals in two ways:

Mob counts
10 individual samples are collected in pottles from 10 animals and then these results are pooled at the lab to give a mob average number – also known as a composite faecal egg count. This is a cost effective technique, most useful for monitoring trends in a mob.

Individual counts
10 individual samples are collected in pottles from 10 different animals and each sample is tested. This will give you an idea of the variability of egg counts and is most useful when doing a post drench check (10 days after drenching to test the effectiveness of the drench).

How it works

We have a laboratory testing service for faecal egg counting.

Samples collected by the farmer will be sent in a courier pack and results will be sent back to the farmer, with recommendations, via one of our Animal Health Area Managers.

Testing kits can be ordered from our Customer Centre by phoning 0800 100 123. Kits include instructions, a submission form, sample pottles, a glove and a return courier pack to send your samples to the laboratory for testing.

Your Ravensdown account will be charged for a composite faecal egg counting test upon request of the testing kit. If additional, or alternative, tests are required we can invoice you when these are requested once you have sent your sample to the lab.

These include:

  • Faecal egg count (10 x individual).
  • Larval culture (quantitative).
  • Liver Fluke: Composite egg count.
  • Lungworm (10 x individual larval counts).
  • Facial Eczema: Composite spore count.

Sampling process

The critical part of faecal egg count testing is that the laboratory must receive the faecal samples as soon as possible after collection – this is to avoid worm eggs hatching before arriving in the laboratory.

  • During collection wear the glove provided.
  • Collect random, fresh, samples directly from the paddock, yard or animals.
  • Avoid collecting soil or plant matter.
  • Place at least 5 grams (one teaspoon) from one animal into each plastic pottle provided.
  • Secure the lids tightly, and seal inside the plastic outer bag provided.
  • Place the bag with the samples, plus the completed submission form into the courier bag provided.
  • Phone the courier to arrange pick up of the courier pack. (the phone number is on the reverse of the courier pack provided).
  • Refrigerate (but do not freeze) the courier pack until it is sent (it can last for several days in the fridge).
  • If a larval culture is also required, keep the samples cool, but do not refrigerate.
  • Do not send on a Friday or the day before a public holiday.