A smart approach to parasite control for your horse
Why we approach equine worming differently
Parasitic intestinal worms are common, and all grazing horses are likely to have worms. However, most horses have a very low number, which causes no negative side effects or harm to the horse.
Problems only arise when the worm burden increases. A large burden of worms can cause weight loss, colic, diarrhoea or even be fatal for your horse. It was previously considered best practice to regularly give dewormers. However, there is growing concern about worming resistance caused by the overuse of wormers.
In the UK, resistance to all currently available wormers has been identified and unfortunately, there are no new medications to treat worms, so the key is protecting the ones we do have. The way forward is to test our horses for worms and treat only those that require it.
How can we worm our horses responsibly?
By following 3 simple rules:
1. Monitoring – Testing your horse’s droppings for worms 3 times per year with a faecal worm egg count, and their saliva once a year for tapeworms.
2. Targeted treatment – Treat only the horses that have a high worm egg count and a positive tapeworm test.
3. Management – Worms are passed on to horses in their droppings. Good stable and pasture hygiene by removing droppings regularly reduces the source of worm infection. We recommend mucking out your horse’s stable at least once a day and removing droppings from the pasture at least twice a week. Co-grazing your horses with cattle or sheep can also be helpful,alongside not over stocking your pasture.
How SmartPlan works
Our Equine Smart Plan is an easy to use, monitoring-based approach to reducing wormer resistance by avoiding unnecessary treatment, which also saves you money. We send you everything you need for the year, and one of our equine team will contact you with the results and a bespoke worming plan based on your test results.
- 3 x Worm egg count kits
- 1 x Equisal saliva test for tapeworm
- 1 x Worming treatment per year
Smart Plan Annual Cost: £69 per horse, per year
We will provide you with instructions on how to collect samples and guidance on when you need to carry out each test during the year. Once you have collected the samples, simply post them in the pre-paid envelopes provided to the laboratory.
Early May – Worm egg count
Mid July – Worm egg count
Early October – Worm egg count
December – Equisal test before administrating 1 x worming treatment.
What do the results mean?
If the egg count test result is very low or negative, there is no need to worm your horse. If the result is high, one of our equine vets will discuss the result with you and advise on a suitable worming treatment for your horse.
Very occasionally, we see horses with extremely high egg count results. In these cases we may recommend further testing to identify any resistance problems. Any additional testing recommended within the SmartPlan is available at a discounted price.
Why treat all horses in December?
The most serious worm related disease occurs in the early spring, cyathastomiasis. Cyathastomiasis can be extremely severe and life threatening, particularly in young horses. The symptoms are diarrhoea, weight loss, lethargy, colic and in the more extreme cases collapse and death. It is caused by red worm present in the gut at the beginning of winter, which burrow into the gut to hibernate over winter as cysts within the intestinal wall, then re-emerge en mass and cause large scale intestinal damage. For this reason, we treat all horses in December as a precaution against encysted red worm.
Tapeworm can be picked up in any forage at any time of year. Because we treat all horses in December, we test for tapeworm at this time as well so we can treat against all worm species present with one worming dose.
The Equisal® test will determine if your horse has been exposed to tapeworm, and therefore requires a treatment for tapeworm.
Our equine SmartPlan will be most useful and effective for:
• Adult horses
• Horses kept in individual paddocks or regular groups
• Where good paddock management techniques are used – this includes, twice-weekly poo picking, not overstocking, or where co-grazing with cattle or sheep is used.
If you have breeding mares or youngstock, high stocking levels or turnout in varying groups, and/or no possibility of paddock management, please contact our Equine Vets who can offer tailored advice on the best worm control programme for your individual situation.