Usually, worming is advised every 6-8 weeks. However, it’s important you develop a sustainable worming program for your own property. Effective worm control, combined with pasture management, will protect the health of your horses.
Every animal carries parasites, including horses. When managed effectively, your horse can live in relative harmony with worms. But, without proper control, worm burdens can lead to health problems like colic, diarrhoea and weight loss.
Faecal Egg Count
How often you should worm depends on a number of factors, such as whether horses are often moving to and from your property, if you keep a large number of horses together and whether you agist horses.
The best way to determine how frequently you should worm is with a faecal egg count reduction test (FECRT). This should be done one week before worming and two weeks after. A FECRT not only tells you what worms are present in your horses, but which wormers will be most effective.
With only three drug classes available – the Benzimidazoles (BZ’s), the Tetrahydropyrimidines (THP’s) and the Macrocyclic Lactones (ML’s) – worm resistance is becoming more concerning. To counter worm resistance, you should target the major parasite threats and ensure you dose correctly.
In Australia, the two worms that pose the highest risk are small strongyles and large roundworms in foals. Once you’ve determined the most effective wormers for your property, you must administer dosage according to weight. Under-dosing can lead to worm resistance.
Finally, in addition to worming, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce the worm population on your property. Removing manure from paddocks at least once a week can drastically reduce the number of larvae present.
In addition, resting paddocks during hot, dry weather can protect your horses from worms that thrive in these conditions. Quarantining new arrivals to perform a FECRT can also prevent the spread of new worm species amongst your horses.
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