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Equine Health Resource

Manure Sand Sediment Test by Vet



Sand accumulation in the equine gut commonly occurs in horses that live in sandy areas and feed off the ground. Tiny amounts of sand in manure may be within normal limits. However, when sand accumulation in the equine gut becomes excessive, horses will often show signs of abdominal pain (colic). A simple test for determining whether sand is present in a horse’s gut is the sand sediment test.

Two fresh fecal balls are mixed with two pints of water in a 1-gallon plastic bag. A veterinary obstetric glove or palpation sleeve is better because the fingers of the glove serve to catch the sand and make it easy to see and feel.

The bag or glove is tied to a fence and let it sit for 5-15 minutes. After the sand has been given adequate time to settle, a vet feels the lowest portion of the bag or sleeve for sand granules.


Although the results of this test should be evaluated in conjunction with other diagnostics, a complete history, and physical exam, it is a simple, convenient and inexpensive way to gauge the presence of sand in the intestine of the horse.


The presence of sand in manure does not alone definitively confirm that sand causing the horse's clinical signs. Likewise, the absence of sand in manure does not mean that it is absent from the intestine. Sand is often moved down the intestine intermittently.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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