As horse owners you know the importance of worming your horse. A high worm burden isn’t good for your horse’s health, it can lead to weight loss, a dull coat, cause damage to the gut, which may lead colic and diarrhoea and general poor performance, and in some cases it can be life-threatening.
At the Horses Inside Out internal organs dissection courses we have regularly seen first hand the damage that can be caused to the horse's digestive system.
The way we manage worms has changed, mainly because of the issue of wormer resistance. It’s no longer recommended to worm your horse at set times of the year. Instead using faecal worm egg counts (FWEC) is now recommended and is a more targeted approach to controlling your horse’s worm burden.
Understanding wormer resistance
This occurs when a high proportion of the parasites picked up from a particular pasture are no longer affected by a particular wormer.
This can happen for a number of reasons:
Worming too often
Not giving your horse the correct dose of wormer
Continually using the same type of wormer
Why FWEC are the way forward
Using faecal worm egg counts helps you determine whether or not your horse actually needs worming. It allows you to target individual horses with a high worm egg count and administering an appropriate worming treatment, which will also help to reduce wormer resistance.
Using this type of programme is simple, you have a worm egg count done, usually four times a year – this can be done by your vet or there are specialist companies including Intelligent Worming who I use for my horses.
Send off a sample of dung and they do the rest for you. If your horse has a significant worm burden (above 200 eggs per gram) you will be advised which wormer you need to give to treat them.
There are other things you can do that will help reduce the levels of worm infection:
1. Remove droppings from your field every couple of days / daily if possible
2. Avoid harrowing / spreading horse muck on your grazing
3. Rest fields regularly or rotate the grazing with cattle or sheep
4. Avoid overgrazing
Before you introduce a new horse to your grassland get a faecal worm egg count done and a salivary test for tapeworm.
When Norman joined us it was great news that no eggs were seen in his droppings but he did have a positive result from the saliva test for tapeworm. As soon as that was sorted he was ready to join our little herd!
Learn more about the digestive system and the importance of worming in Horse Anatomy for Performance