If you see staff standing in a group of donkeys with plastic gloves in their hands you might wonder what is happening. Once a month we collect samples of dung for analysis by our pathology laboratory. When each donkey passes droppings a handful is collected in the glove and the donkey’s name is put onto the outside. Once the whole group of donkeys has been sampled, the samples are taken to the pathology laboratory where they are analysed and numbers of each type of worm egg is counted.
If any of the donkeys have a significant number of worm eggs in their droppings then that particular donkey is given a de-worming drug designed to treat the specific parasite of interest.
As there is a chance that the parasites will build up resistance to de-worming drugs we only give the drug to donkeys that require treatment.
We clean up the droppings from all our pastures. By removing the droppings we can reduce the chance of worm larvae being ingested by a grazing donkey, leading to further infection. Another way of breaking the life cycle of the worms is to graze the pasture with sheep during the winter months, when the donkeys are in the barns, as the equine parasite s do not survive in a sheep’s body.