EPG Counts, McMasters Method, 5 Point Check* System and FAMACHA* 
5 Point Check* and FAMACHA* are copyrighted

Most are familiar with the FAMACHA* method, or the basic "eyelid" check.  

Many goat owners use this method to determine whether their animal may have a parasite load that would require treatment. However,  many using  FAMACHA*  have not been properly trained in this method. The FAMACHA* system should never be the only method used in determining parasite loads. Using the 5 Point Check * System, the McMasters method with EPG Counts, and FAMACHA*  together  will allow the goat owner to make better decision for the care and management of the herd. The following should help you to understand these methods. A basic understanding will help the goat owner in using the results of these methods to determine the necessary course of action.

FAMACHA* method  and 5 Point Check* System 

FAMACHA- The FAMACHA* system was developed by Dr. Faffa Malan (FAfa MAlan CHArt). The system is one of the ways of determining anemia, caused by the barberpole worm, in your goat.  A color chart system developed to use with the checking of the inner lower eyelid allows the goat owner to quickly identify the need to treat for parasites. 

5 Point Check* System- Developed to be used with the FAMACHA* system. The 5 Point Check* system uses the examinations of  the eye, back, tail, jaw, and nose. The 5 Point Check* helps the goat owner/producer to look for other signs of parasite infections that may not be barberpole infections.

This is an excellent slideshow for use of the FAMACHA* and the 5 Point systems*-   http://www.slideshare.net/schoenian/worm-diagnostics

Benefits & Drawbacks to the FAMACHA* System

There is great ease in the use of the FAMACHA* system, from the small herd to large production farms, it is a relatively quick method of seeing if a particular goat looks anemic and potentially has a heavy wormload. The system is very helpful when using additional parasite management methods. It is cost effective and can be done anywhere anytime. 

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The disadvantages of the FAMACHA* system are often overlooked. The FAMACHA* system is only for the barberpole (Haemonchus contortus) parasite. Often too many goat owners do not realize the system is to be used in conjunction with fecal egg counts and the 5 Point Check* system. It should not be the sole source of parasite monitoring.

Do I Need to be Trained in the FAMACHA* System?

Many people use the checking of the lower eyelid to determine parasite load levels, unfortunately many are not trained. 

Proper training in the use of the system is ideal. The distribution of the system is under the auspices of The South African Veterinary Association. Distribution in the USA is through the laboratory of the University Of Georgia College Of Veterinary Medicine. Often through many Universities, classes are taught and certifications can be achieved. Upon completion of the class you can become certified in the FAMACHA* system, only then can an individual receive the FAMACHA* color chart card.

 
 

Wingin' it Farms has a farm staff partner that is Certified in the FAMACHA* System

 
 

Example of the using the FAMACHA* method

We were asked by the purchasers of the doe below to evaluate her while she was in quarantine.

History- 

2year old Alpine Dairy Goat, 2nd Freshener, In lactation- 1 gallon per day

Feed- 1 1/2- 2 qts per day with hay

130-140lbs


Goat appeared to be in good health and good body condition, formed pellets until transport. Pellets began to clump and become soft. Upon elimination a worm could be seen in the feces. A fecal was run using the McMasters method with a score of 1525 !  With proper daylight the FAMACHA method was also utilized. This is important! Never do a FAMACHA check indoors. Always check with natural daylight for the most accurate reading.

Above- A close up of the feces. The worm is circled in red.

Above- The doe being evaluated. Notice the pale inner eyelid. 

Right- She was evaluated as D(4).  This doe needs treatment immediately! Eggs Per Gram- 1525

Dairy output as well as feed intake (excessive) is affected due to high parasite load.

The 5 Point Check*  System 

The 5 Point Check System* was designed to be used with the FAMACHA* system.

 Using the observations made with five specific areas on the examination of the individual goat to evaluate internal parasites.  

Targeting 5 areas for examination.

Using the 5 Point Check* System helps to identify the possibility other parasites that may be present 

such as coccidia, other strongyles, flukes, bots

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for more detailed info and slideshow - starting with slide 14  http://www.slideshare.net/schoenian/worm-diagnostics

Where Do I Go From Here?

Based on your observations of the FAMACHA* system along with the 5 Point Check* System you can better determine the necessary course of action. If you feel the observed condition may require anthelmintic (dewormer)  treatment it is important to have a fecal analysis done so the proper dewormer can be used.  Understanding the use of dewormers will help you in the treatment, management, and monitoring of your herd.  Because the two systems are based on external observations it is important  to follow with EPG Counts from a fecal analysis for accurate and targeted treatments.

EPG Counts and the McMasters Method

EPG- (Eggs Per Gram)  EPG Counts are used to identify parasite infections in your goat.  The number of eggs allows you to understand the parasite load your goat has. EPG Counts are very beneficial in helping the livestock owner know the parasite load levels within the herd as well as on individual animals.  

McMasters Method- The McMasters Method uses a measured amount of feces and a measured amount of flotation solution to determine the EPG counts. The egg counts are determined by the counting the eggs in the chambers of the specially marked slides and multiplying the eggs seen. The multiplication of eggs is determined by the number of grams of feces. 

Why are EPG Counts Important?

There are many benefits to knowing actual EPG counts.  

~ allows for the individual goat to be treated if necessary

~ animals that are not parasite resistant may be identified

~ minimizes overuse of dewormers leading to drug resistance

~ allows herd owner to cull those animals that are parasite "problems"

~ monitoring allows for management practice adjustments that may be necessary

Do I Need to Test Every Animal Individually or Collectively?

In small herds, individual fecals are best for monitoring and tracking parasite sensitivity.  Producers with large herds may not have the time or resources to individually test all animals and therefore several collective samples will at the least show type of parasites infecting their goats. Learning to do your own fecals is much more cost effective.

What is the Difference between Simple Flotation Fecal and The McMasters Method?

Simple Floatation Fecal is the gathering of pellets, mixing with floatation solution putting a slide cover over the fecal and allowing the eggs to rise to the top. When put under a scope eggs may be seen, this will only tell you what kind of parasites your goat has but there is no way to determine load. More often than not eggs will always be seen on a slide, however deworming simply because eggs are seen can lead to resistance to dewormers. 

The McMasters Method allows for egg counts, this is critical in knowing whether a dewormer is actually needed.  This method uses weighed feces with measured floatation solution and a special slide designed to give EPG counts. Those counts allow the herdsman to deworm only those with heavy parasite loads.

Is It Difficult To Do?

Learning how to run your own fecals is not difficult at all but will require patience and practice.

Determining what kind of eggs are in a sample can be challenging, many eggs look so similar they are difficult to tell apart.

What Will I Need?

You will need a  Microscope - with these features-

~ a 10X eye piece and a 10X objective for a total power of 100 

~ a mechanical stage for precise slide control

~ a built-in light source.

We recommend the  Paracount-EPG™ Fecal Analysis Kit with McMaster-Type Counting Slides

Small disposable cups (dixie-cups)

A fine mesh strainer

Book or pictures of parasite eggs

Fecal Solution- (we use a sugar solution recipe)

What Do I Do With the Results?

The results of your EPG counts and the observations used in the FAMACHA and the 5 Point Check systems can be used to determine if treatment is necessary. Logging your results will help you to monitor your herd an identify unthrifty, parasite prone animals. If treatment is necessary or perhaps borderline, consulting with your veterinarian for treatment options and dosages is best. Proper usage of dewormers is extremely important. Using dewormers improperly, under dosing etc can lead to drug resistance. More on this subject in "Use of Dwormers" and "Herd Management".

Slideshow demonstrating the EPG Count using McMasters Method

The McMAsters slides have a grid printed on them. Each row will be a pass on your scope. The viewing width is between the lines. As you make a pass down you count all the eggs in that row, go up the next row and continue until the first chamber has been counted. Record the number of eggs counted. Check for different types of eggs, keeping a separate count for each. Count second chamber. DO NOT count eggs outside of the green box. When using the 4 gram method for the EPG count you will add the egg numbers from both chambers. A+B= C

C x 25 = EPG

Do not multiple Cocci Oocysts or Tape eggs* these will be discussed in other pages.

When first learning to use your scope you will need to know how to focus in, a simple way to explain this is to look for black rings... these are air bubbles, they look like old vinyl 45 records ( for those of you old enough to know what a record is).


Use arrows or let slideshow play.

  • Making Sugar flotation mix 1 lb sugar to 12 oz water simple scale
    Making Sugar flotation mix 1 lb sugar to 12 oz water simple scale
  • digital scale
    digital scale
  • our scope
    our scope
  • Kit from vetslides
    Kit from vetslides
  • kit contents
we keep our FAMACHA* card with our kit
    kit contents we keep our FAMACHA* card with our kit
  • Beakers, 1ml syringes, & slides
    Beakers, 1ml syringes, & slides
  • close up of the McMasters Slide
    close up of the McMasters Slide
  • goat pellets, we use the 4gram method
    goat pellets, we use the 4gram method
  • our "poop" knife, to crush up the pellets
    our "poop" knife, to crush up the pellets
  • pellets ground up small, almost powdered
    pellets ground up small, almost powdered
  • lines on beaker tell you where to add solution to
    lines on beaker tell you where to add solution to
  • soultion first
    soultion first
  • adding the fecal matter to designated line
    adding the fecal matter to designated line
  • pour into dixie cup, gently stir with knife
    pour into dixie cup, gently stir with knife
  • mixed
    mixed
  • pour solution through a very fine strainer into another cup
    pour solution through a very fine strainer into another cup
  • with knife move matter around, do not force fecal matter through strainer
    with knife move matter around, do not force fecal matter through strainer
  • using your 1 ml syringe draw up fecal sample
    using your 1 ml syringe draw up fecal sample
  • inject into both chambers
    inject into both chambers
  • do not tip slide when putting under scope
wait 3-5 minutes
    do not tip slide when putting under scope wait 3-5 minutes
  • read the fecal
more detail below
    read the fecal more detail below
Making Sugar flotation mix 1 lb sugar to 12 oz water simple scale
Making Sugar flotation mix 1 lb sugar to 12 oz water simple scale

Now that you have a better understanding of
 The FAMACHA*, 5Point Check*,  & McMasters EPG Counts 
this will allow you to determine treatment and management practices.
Please use links below

WE ARE NOT VETERINARIANS 

The information provided is not to replace veterinarian care. We do not  give medical advice and shall not be interpreted as such. 

We do not and cannot guarantee accuracy of any articles written nor for any links provided. The articles/pages herein have been written by laymen,  and should be understood as such. It is the readers responsibility to consult with their veterinarian before implementing the practices discussed herein. 

Wingin' it Farms shall not be held responsible for the use of any information provided.