Equine Worming- by Dr Shannon Goodwin BVSc

Internal parasite prevention should be a well integrated part of your horse management program. It has always been advised to worm horses every 3 months, but new research shows that this is not the most efficient strategy. 

Inappropriate or over worming may cause the parasites to become resistant to treatments long term. Which can make it very difficult to eradicate infections.

Put simply an ineffective worming program may be costing you money.

A good worming program will:

  • Target only the horses that are shedding a high number of worm eggs. 
  • Reduce the amount of medication/chemicals used. 
  • Worm horses only when required.
  • Use faecal egg count monitoring to determine when and which horses to worm.
  • Include pasture/environmental management

Faecal eggs counts (FEC) allow us to calculate how many worm eggs your horse is shedding in their faeces and to determine how effective your current worming program is. The number of worm eggs being produced will determine if your horse is at low, medium or high risk of worm associated illnesses or disease.
At a minimum FECs should be done once a year at the start of Spring. Ideally they should be done prior to administering a worm treatment then 14 days after. This will assess if the treatment given was effective against the parasites present. 

Horses in low density areas such as large property paddocks may require worming less frequently than horses in high density areas such as agistment paddocks or stables. Horses that regularly travel or are introduced into new horse herds may be at higher risk of picking up parasites.

Environmental management will also help to reduce the worm burden in the pasture. This includes manure removal, rotating paddocks regularly, avoiding over-grazing the pasture and grazing with other species of animals. 

A strategic worming program may reduce your management costs and the long term issue of worm resistance. 

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