Dung Beetle Assessment

Do you want to know how dung beetle friendly the site is?

How healthy is your dung beetle site score?

(tweet your dung beetle status)


This is assessment is not a dung beetle survey, rather an site assessment that gives an indication of dung beetle activity at your site.

Has this assessment peaked your interest? Want to really know about the dung beetles you have? Contact us to book a full survey conducted by an expert or have an expert come to talk to you about dung beetles and show you what you have.

The Assessment

This dung beetle assessment has been designed to help quantify how well a site supports dung beetles, both the number of the different groups of dung beetles and the 'quality' of dung on the site.

Downloads of these instructions and the associated scorecards are below.


  • 2 periods of the year for each site (April-June & September-October)
  • Any time in the allocated months but not in, or within 24 hours of heavy rain
  • Any time of day


  • The habitat (i.e. a field) must have had grazing livestock feeding in the last 24 hours (fresh pats)
  • Livestock are often moved between fields or, in larger areas, graze in patterns. Therefore you will not be able to assess an extensive area but must select sufficiently different areas for assessment

What you need:

  • Sample tray (cat litter trays greater than 40cm x 25cm are suitable)

What dung:

  • Dung without a glistening surface and not completely dry inside is suitable for assessment
  • Do not sample dung too liquid to pick up in pieces and add to the sample tray
  • Dung from each species present must be sampled according to the below protocol


  1. Select the location
  2. Fill out the assessment form header and then for each dung pat complete a scorecard
  3. Where possible take 6 dung pat samples from each species in each of the following:
    1. In sun (not shaded for a significant portion of the day)
    2. In shade (this can be the shaded side of a hedge or in a wood)
  4. Each dung sample (called a pat) = one scorecard:
    1. Each sample comprises of one cow pat, one horse pat or 12 sheep dung deposits (usually each one is in several pieces) or volume equivalent for other species.
    2. It is important to sample each livestock species present
    3. Place one pat at a time into the sample tray and where it touched the ground examine the area for beetle tunnels. The tunnels are recorded on the form
    4. Then work your way through the dung in the tray and count the number of beetles of each of the three types (see illustration) and record them on the form
    5. Return all dung and beetles back to where they were found
    6. Add up the scorecard for each pat, select the top scoring half of the pats then add just these up and divide by the number of top scoring pats. At the end of the survey put this number in the average site score box after multiplying it by 2 to get your percentage score.


This assessment methodology is designed to provide a very basic measure of the dung beetles at a site for citizen science use. This assessment tool is designed to provide a rudimentary understanding of your local dung beetle community. It is designed as a basic measure of dung beetle community health but it is not designed to inform questions about biodiversity and abundance for wider use. This type of analysis is not a substitute for a professional dung beetle diversity and abundance survey which is the domain of an experienced specialist and important to inform land and livestock management discussions.


There are a wide range of important issues associated with being active in managed and unmanaged environments and it is assumed that prior to using this assessment method you (and your organisation) have undertaken all appropriate and relevant precautions - including risk assessments, safety actions, risk mitigations and permissions.

We are hoping to get some support / funding to build a Dung Beetle Assessment app. Please get in touch if you would like to support us.