Collecting Poo Samples

Collecting Poo Samples

Remember the old Combantrin Mum used to give you when you had worms as a kid? Well cows are at risk of getting those worms plus other parasites as well.

We have to protect our 106 weaners (calves about 6-12 months old) very carefully as they are our wages. They seemed to have lost some weight lately and we were concerned about parasites such as threadworms etc. We ordered a “Poo testing kit” to find out for sure. (Faecal samples are tested in the laboratory for eggs which provide an indication of the severity of any parasite infestation.)

The testing kit arrived in the mail. Chris thought it was a good Sunday afternoon job, so we set out together on the quad bike with the poo collecting kit under my arm.

“The samples have to be fresh. REALLY fresh,” announced Chris. (I love how he shares this level of detail at the last minute!) Yes, you guessed it! That meant we had to stand around in the paddock waiting for one of them to do a poo. I was about to become more intimately acquainted with the bowel movements of a cow than I rather fancied.

As soon as we spotted a tail going up and a back arching, we zoomed over to inspect the steaming prize. We used a stick to scoop it up and squash it into the little plastic bottle – rather like a urine testing bottle. You could feel the heat from the bottle in your hand. A little disconcerting but … they had to be “fresh, REALLY fresh.” At least the flimsy rubber glove provided a meager sense of protection.

But, it wasn’t over. We had to collect 10 samples of course!! Those calves must have thought we were nuts –so intent on their bowel habits.

The next day we popped the samples in the mail back to the lab for testing. The postman delivers some pretty interesting things, but it had never occurred to me that he might be carrying so much shit around day-to-day!


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