Count Your Eggs Before They Hatch
Christy Taylor, Hidden Corner Farm
Barberpole. Coccidia. Meningeal worm. Lungworm. Words to strike fear into the heart of every goat farmer. Every breeder and hobbyist who is involved in goats long term will have a run in with parasites, which cause significant financial losses in the caprine industries worldwide. Running a large herd can make veterinary fecal testing complicated and expensive. While no home method is going to be an adequate substitute for skilled veterinary care, breeders can lower the financial costs by learning to do their own fecals with a microscope.
Like any piece of equipment, microscopes range from “novelty” pieces to increasingly sophisticated - and expensive- machines. Most goat farmers will want to invest in a scope that is affordable yet sufficient to make parasite detection as easy and accurate as possible. However, there are other factors to consider.
Would you prefer a monocular or binocular model? Binocular models are more comfortable for longer term use, but tend to cost more, so individual users will need to assess comfort vs budget restraints.
Magnification: While 400X is sufficient to see even Coccidia, higher magnifications might be desirable as you become more skilled in parasite detection.
Some microscopes are battery powered, and are therefore more easily used in the field or a barn with no electricity. A corded scope is going to be less portable but is significantly less likely to die while examining a sample.
Extras! Are you in search of a bare bones scope that gets the job done without the extra bells or whistles? Do you have children, students, or 4H youths that you intend to educate? A cell phone hookup that can take accurate pictures might be considered essential for teaching projects or allowing you to share pictures online for educational purposes, as well as sending to your vet for a second opinion.
After you’ve decided which models are going to suit your needs best, it’s time to start shopping. Below are some models within an affordable range with various features to fit various needs.