Smart Worming and Wormer Resistance – Simply Monitor worm eggs Assess the Risks and only Treat if necessary
Following on from our recent new series of articles on worming and the different types of worm that can affect our animals, we have received the following important information from Zoetis, the makers of Equest and Pramox.
London, UK, March 2016 – Worms become more active once the weather starts to warm up so after Easter is the time to start conducting regular faecal worm egg counts (FWECs) to check your horses’ worm burdens, says Wendy Talbot, Zoetis vet. Read more
A ‘one size fits all’ solution can never be ideal. We need to manage the worm burden in every horse differently because they are individuals and every situation is unique. It is also important for us to use wormers responsibly. If we use wormers too frequently or unnecessarily, we could eventually reduce their effectiveness in controlling parasites (known as resistance). This is why the experts advocate more sustainable worm control, using a targeted approach to tackle a specific worm burden at any given point, rather than the old-fashioned ‘catch all’ method of routine worming every horse every 6-13 weeks.
Manage the worm challenge on the pasture
Reducing the number of worms on the pasture will help to keep the re-infection challenge to a minimum. This in turn reduces our reliance on wormers, slowing the drive for wormer resistance.
Test the worm burden
Regular faecal worm egg counts play a major role in allowing you to target your worming treatment effectively. They can also be used to check that your existing worming programme is working.
Plan your worm control programme
A thorough history of your horse’s health and worming regime, together with an assessment of his living environment and field companions, will help you to build the best possible worming programme.
Dose with the right active
When you have identified that a wormer is needed you should always select the one most appropriate for the parasite you are targeting. You must also make sure you treat your horse accurately according to weight. This will help to maintain the effectiveness of the wormers currently available to us.
A new horse can bring any number of infections into your yard – including worms. It’s up to you as his owner to think about your new horse’s welfare, the other horses on the yard and how to reduce the potential risks with worming. A new horse could bring high levels of worms with them, with the added issue that these may be worms that are resistant to one or more of the worming treatments currently available. This means they may be tougher to get rid of and they could cause ongoing problems for the entire yard!
Unless you have a very clear and trustworthy history of worming for your new horse, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Treating soon after arrival with a wormer that is licensed to control benzimidazole resistant worms and one that will kill all stages of worm in the horse is advisable in most situations – tapeworm should also be included for the same reasons. This will ensure that your new horse is as worm free as possible and reduces the risk of bringing resistant worms onto the yard. It also means that the horse can be quickly integrated into the yard’s worm management system – which is hopefully a balanced approach with pasture management and testing aligned with strategic treatments.
The other thing to consider is that it can be useful to have your new horse tested to assess their current worm burden before any treatment. A faecal worm egg count (FWEC) will give you an indication of the adult redworm and roundworm parasites in your horse by measuring the number of worm eggs in a dung sample, reported as eggs per gram (epg). With a new horse it may not change the decision as to whether to worm or not, but it does start to build a picture of the worm burden that they carry and how their worming regime can be best integrated onto the yard’s general worm management.
Keep them in
Viable eggs may continue to be passed in the faeces for around a couple of days after you have wormed your new horse so it’s important that you keep them off pasture for this period (~48hrs) to avoid the contamination of your grazing. Even if they are going to be out on their own, it is still worthwhile to keep them off the field as they will still shed worm eggs onto the pasture and may re-infect themselves when the worm larvae have matured.
Remember ongoing pasture management
Once your new horse has been integrated into your worming programme with the other horses on the yard, the importance of ongoing pasture management should never be under-estimated – it is inexorably linked to worm control strategy. Low stocking densities, the daily collection of droppings, the grazing of other stock such as sheep or cattle on the land and the rotation and resting of pasture will reduce contamination and the exposure of the horses to infective larvae. Clearly a good worm control strategy will also result in less pasture contamination.
In addition, an FWEC from your new horse 6-13 weeks post arrival (depending on the wormer used) will be a useful guide as to how they are coping initially with their new environment and the worm challenge. The other thing to remember is that a new horse will always change the dynamic in the yard, whether with field pecking order or worm control! The new horse may well shed more over the first few months and they may cause horses that have previously coped well on the yard, to pick up an increasing burden and need treating more frequently.
Last spring Merial simplified the SMART worming message by introducing the SMART Rules, four simple rules to help horse owners plan an effective worming programme. In the second of these rules Merial takes a closer look to help you explain why refugia is so important.
In general, owners of horses have a tendency to hate the thought of their horses harbouring worms, but research has shown that actually allowing their horses to keep worms at a low level count within their system can actually be beneficial. These worms are known as ‘refugia’ and keeping a low population of treatment- resistant worms in the horses system, helps to dilute the number of treatment-resistant worms that are developing. Worming too frequently will deplete the number of treatment- sensitive worms, leaving only resistant worms in the gut which cannot be eradicated with wormers.
What is refugia?
Refugia is the population of worms not exposed to wormer treatment so includes the parasites in untreated horses and on the pasture. They pose little threat in small numbers, but serve to dilute the population of treatment-resistant worms. When the treatment-resistant worms breed, they pass on their resistance genes to the next generation. Keeping a population of worms in refugia, however, means that it is not only the resistant worms that breed. In this way the worm population always has a good proportion of treatment-sensitive worms, and worming treatments can continue to be effective now and in the future.
One of the best ways to maintain refugia is to use faecal worm egg counts to find out whether the horse really requires worming. We already have clients that currently practice this and they have already been advised that if their horse has a result of less than 200 eggs per gram (epg) they should not worm. This is because a low level of worms is not harmful and actually helps to maintain refugia. For more information on this or any other aspect of worming and worm counts give us a call.
Owning a horse is one of the most rewarding and pleasurable experiences in life. These amazing creatures offer companionship, love and trust in addition to the enjoyment of riding and experiencing the great outdoors. However there is a great deal of responsibility and effort required to owning a horse much more than just offering them a field and a stable. In addition to the daily chores of mucking out, turning out, and pasture management, there is also regular grooming, feeding, shoeing, inoculations and worming to consider.
Before You Look
Before you start to browse the many internet sites for your perfect horse, do some research first. How are you going to keep your horse, in livery or at home? If you are going to stable your horse at a livery yard, ring round local stables and ask to go and see their facilities.
If you are going to keep your horse at home, ensure that you have prepared a suitable paddock, which is securely fenced, has natural shelter and a source of water. You may also want to consider the need for a stable or field shelter. Although it is true that many horses can and do live out in both the summer and winter months, there are some times when you need to put them in a warm place, for example in bad weather, or if your horse gets an injury and requires box rest.
Choose Your Horse Carefully
Don’t buy the first horse you see (unless you really fall in love with it). When you go to view a potential horse, although it is extremely important to put it through its paces in the school, don’t overlook other aspects of the horse, such as its health. For a relatively small fee, you can have a ‘vetting’ completed by an Equine Vet, which will uncover any potential health problems. In addition to a vetting, ask the current owners plenty of questions about their current care strategy. When did they last have dental care? What worming programme to they follow? Etc.
Bringing Your New Horse Home
When you bring the horse home for the first time, put them in the stable and let them relax after having travelled in a tight space in the horsebox; it is imperative that you give them time to rest, recuperate and to get comfortable with their new surroundings. After a day you can then release them into their field and let him or her have a good look around. Remember this is a potentially stressful time for your horse, so don’t overdo it just yet even though you are probably dying to hop on and go riding into the sunset.
The best way to bond with your horse during the first week is to spend time grooming it. Horses are herd animals, and love to be groomed so use this is an opportunity to get to know your horse and them to get to know you.
It may be a good idea to speak to your local equine vet and discuss implementing a suitable care plan for your horse. One of the most important health issues with a new horse is worming. When a horse is moved to a new yard or home you should worm them with a good broad spectrum wormer such as Equest Pramox Horse Wormer. Despite where your horse it up to with its existing worming programme, it is advisable to use Equest Pramox as your horse is more vulnerable to a worm infection when moving to new surroundings. You should then discuss with your vet or a trained SQP (our staff) about a suitable long term worming programme. Worming programmes involve more than just using an oral wormer every 8 weeks, and can be tailored specifically to your horse, so you can keep them in the best of health.
The fields your horses are turned out in are the main source of their nutrition; however they can also be the main source of parasites, particularly roundworms. Regular maintenance of your fields is therefore essential not only to provide your horse with adequate grazing and nutrition throughout the year, but to also reduce the risk of worm re-infestation.
The domestication of horses has challenged the ambient worm/horse relationship. In the wild, horses are free to graze and wander over many acres, which naturally reduces the chance of re-infestation with worms. In comparison our domesticated horses are limited to one or two paddocks, so it is our responsibility as horse owners to try to replicate ‘natures’ way of controlling worm populations to ensure our horses stay fit and healthy.
Rest the Paddock
By resting each paddock for at least three months between grazing, this could help to reduce the worm egg and larvae population in the field. Resting is more advantageous during certain times of year, for example, hard frost and cold temperatures help to break the life cycle of certain worms. Resting also allows for the grass to recover and grow maintaining suitable levels of forage for the horse.
Regularly Remove Horse Droppings
An average horse can produce approximately 24kg of droppings a day – that’s a lot of poo! And unfortunately allowing droppings to accumulate in the field just increases the chances of your horse getting re-infected with worms. If your horse has worms, these worms will lay eggs which are passed in the horse’s dung. The eggs in the dung then hatch into larvae and spread into the field, where they can be ingested easily when your horse is grazing. This process creates a viscous circle, and as horse owners it is important to try and break this cycle. Removing horse droppings from the paddock may be back breaking work, however if done regularly can really help to reduce the egg burden in your field.
This option may be more difficult for some, however if you have the opportunity to cross graze with other animals such as cows and sheep, this is an excellent form of worm control. Most worms are specific to one host, which means they are unable to survive if ingested by another animal. If you are considering this method, ensure that your field is stock proof and that your horse is gradually introduced to the animals.
Don’t Overstock Paddocks
Unfortunately more horses, means more dung, which means potentially a greater worm burden in a relatively small area. In addition to risking your horse in a field with a potentially high worm population, the quality of the forage can also be reduced.
Although not every horse owner is responsible for the upkeep of the field their horse is kept, it is important for you to be aware that all paddocks should be sustained to an adequate level to ensure your horse is in the best possible health. Harrowing, fertilisation and weed management (ragwort) are all very important factors in establishing and maintaining a good field. If your horse is kept at livery, discuss with the yard manager how they maintain your horses paddock. Alternatively if you have your own land, it may be useful to contact a local farmer or contractor.
It may not be possible to put all of these actions into place, however the more you can do to help control the worms in your paddock, the better. Pasture management is just one important factor in the battle against worms, for more information about other worm control measures such de-worming medications see our other blogs.
It is amazing how many people think you can buy a horse, pop them in a field and just ride them whenever you want. But there is so much more to horse care from shoeing to grooming and exercise to a good equest horse wormer.
Horse care is not easy. If you have a dog chances are you don’t just leave your dog to survive on their own. You take them for their vaccinations; you worm them regularly, walk them and ensure they are well fed and cared for. The same applies when you own a horse, there is so much to take into consideration and one of the most important things is worming your horse.
Put an Annual Plan in Place
The best way to ensure that you are caring for your horse properly is to put a good annual worming programme in place. Get horse wormers advice if necessary before setting out with your plan.
Your plan should include all considerations especially weather changes when worms start to breed and spread throughout your grazing areas. You can buy cheap horse wormers that will tackle the different worms that horses tend to get. It’s important to realise that your horse will never be completely worm free, but to avoid problems later on you need to keep these parasites to a minimum.
Treat What Worms When
During the winter months you will want to treat your horses for red worm larvae and bots. This is the time when these parasites start taking hold of your horse. During the spring time and autumn it is essential to treat for tapeworm as these worms can cause serious health problems such as colic.
Remember that if your horse is in a field with other horses, you will need to work out your annual horse wormer programme to coincide with the other horse’s schedules. Using a comprehensive worming programme including good quality horse wormers like equest pramox horse wormer and equest horse wormer with pasture management and worm egg counts can provide a robust schedule and help reduce wormer resistance.
I think the biggest mistake many horse owners make when giving their horses an oral wormer such as equest horse wormer or equest pramox horse wormers, is to give the wrong dosage. Many people give their horses too little and under dosing has virtually no effect on the horse’s worm problem. It is important to know your horse’s weight and then follow the dosage directions carefully to ensure you are giving your horse the best tools to fight off these unwanted parasites.
A horse’s environment also plays a role as to when you need to give them their equest or equest pramox horse wormer. Pasture management can help to reduce your worm egg burden, which in turn can help to reduce your reliance on using certain wormers regularly such as equest horse wormer. Pasture management include poo picking, resting paddocks and cross grazing.
As any horse lover and keeper knows; equine worms are an ever present threat. They can have an effect on all breeds of horse, ponies and donkeys and can be caught within the stable or when they are out grazing. Failing to control these parasites can result in severe weight loss, colic and even death. But aside from giving equine pramox or another type of wormer to your horse, do you need to do anything else? Some people argue that stabling a horse after worming is correct practice; however changing a horse’s routine can be very disruptive.
When your horses have worms, you want to go about it correctly to maintain a control on the problem; unfortunately you will never completely eradicate worms. As worms are spread through droppings it is wise to take precautions to make sure your beloved animals have minimal contact with the parasites again.
Horses Living Out
After worming your horse or horses with the appropriate wormer for that time of year, you should leave them in that field for 24 – 36 hours. After this process you should relocate them on to a fresh, clean field. If you haven’t been doing regular dung collecting, to help the paddock recover and reduce the egg burden, combine harrowing with a good lengthy rest (approx. 3 months). Harrowing a dirty pasture will effectively spread the worm eggs and larvae, and combined with pasture resting reduce the worm population.
Horses Living In
If your horse predominately spends time in the stable, after worming you should keep them stabled for approximately 48 hours. After this period, it is wise to completely muck out the stable, removing all dirty bedding. After the stable is empty, thoroughly clean the entire area with a tough disinfectant. Replace all the bedding with a fresh variety and make sure to scrub all feed and water buckets thoroughly.
When you have a new horse, you should treat them with equine wormers such as equest pramox as a general rule. They should be isolated to their own field initially and kept away from your other equines. This will prevent any unknown parasites from infecting other horses in the area.
Worms can be treated with special medications known as horse wormers, but worming your horse is not an easy task. It is not something which can be done once and then forgotten about, as the worm medication needs to be applied within the correct intervals as part of a worming schedule.
In order to give your horse the best treatment, you should talk with your vet and develop an effective plan for a worm treatment schedule. You will need to space out the treatments in intervals throughout the year to ensure that your horse is always protected against worm infections.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are designing a plan for treating your horse:
- The first step is to choose your schedule. It used to be recommended that horses be wormed every six to eight weeks; however the advice has now shifted to responsible worming in a bid to combat wormer resistance. This is when the worms become immune to the effects of the medicines and are no longer killed by it. Discuss with your vet about your horses environment, whether they have contact with other horses and their general health to determine a suitable schedule that you can realistically adhere to.
- Egg worm counts can now be easily done by post or at your local vets by collecting a dung sample. This process determines whether your horse has a low or high burden of roundworm eggs, and often a low burden means you can skip a dose of wormer. However it is important to understand that egg worm counts only detect certain worms and this process does not completely replace the need for horse wormers.
- In order to prevent resistance, managing your property is equally important, including removing horse droppings from the field regularly, keeping the feeding bins up off the ground, and practicing mixed grazing with sheep or cattle.
- A great way to keep yourself organised so that you never forget a worm treatment is to pin a calendar to your stables. You can mark the date before each horse wormer treatment or worm egg count so that you will have time to prepare for it.
- Another great tip is to buy your supply of horse wormer in advance, so that when the time comes to worm and you don’t have the medicine on hand you will not miss a critical treatment.
With these helpful tips, you will be able to create an effective horse wormer schedule which will keep your horses healthy and strong and free of parasites.