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How to do a modified Wisconsin sugar float test: Find parasite infections with fecal examination

Progressive Dairyman Editor Peggy Coffeen Published on 12 October 2015
fecal samples

A fecal examination is a useful tool in determining the presence and level of an internal parasite infection. Veterinarian Dr. Katie Speller (formerly with Animart) provided the following steps to conduct a modified Wisconsin sugar float test:

A fresh fecal sample is important, as well as correct identification of the animal or animals being examined. You may refrigerate fecal samples for several days if needed.



Supplies needed:

  • 3 grams of fecal material
  • Sheather’s sugar float solution
  • 15 mL test tubes
  • Strainer
  • Funnel
  • Cup and tongue depressor
  • Centrifuge
  • Microscope

Fill test tube

1. Fill a 15 mL test tube with 10 mL of Sheather’s solution.

Weigh feces

2. Weigh 3 grams of feces and place it into a cup.


Mix solution in cup

3. Pour the Sheather’s solution into the cup and mix well with a tongue depressor.

Place strainer in funnel

Pour more solution into test tube

4. Place a funnel in the test tube, then a strainer on top of the funnel. Pour the fecal-sugar solution through the strainer into the test tube.

a. Use the tongue depressor to squeeze the liquid out of the feces in the strainer.


Place in centrifuge and spin

5. Balance the centrifuge and allow it to spin at 1,200 rpm for five minutes.

Place tube in rack

6. Remove the tube from the centrifuge and place it in a test tube rack.

Place a cover slip onto the meniscus

7. Fill the tube with more Sheather’s solution until you have a slight meniscus and place a cover slip onto the meniscus.

8. Allow it to sit for five to 10 minutes, and then remove the cover slip and place it onto a slide.

Examine eggs with microscope

9. Scan on 10x, and then examine individual eggs on 40x.

10. Count the number of eggs you find.

a. You can divide the number by three to get the number of eggs per gram.

What does this tell you?

According to Speller, it is not out of the ordinary to find two or three eggs in a sample. However, if there are five or more, she recommends applying a dewormer.  PD

Click here to read Speller’s description of common internal parasites.

PHOTOS: Photos by Peggy Coffeen.