A thorough worming regime is absolutely vital to keep your horse healthy. A basic worming program is based on dosing at certain times of year with a wormer targeted against important species – this is known as a Strategic Dosing Program. An example of our suggested program can be found here.
These programs can work very well, however, increasingly worms are becoming resistant to the popular wormers used in the UK, which means your horse may carry a significant burden without you knowing until it’s too late. For this reason Oaklands strongly suggest that you use faecal egg counts (FECs) to check your horse’s worm burden before worming him/her. FECs are cheap and easy and can ultimately save you money as if your horse has no or few eggs in the faeces you don’t need to give a wormer.
If your horse needs worming we will advise you on the most suitable product and then repeat the FEC three to four weeks later to make sure the wormer has worked. In this way, FECs reduce the number of wormers used and make sure that the correct wormer is used. If owners continue to blindly worm their horses the pasture in the UK will increasingly become over populated with resistant worms – a huge problem for equine health.
Oaklands now offer in-house faecal egg counts for £12 per sample or £9 each if more than six are submitted at once. Faecal egg counts are included as part of the MiHorse Club.
More on worms
Redworm are increasingly common due to their increasing resistance to many common wormers. Redworm live in the large intestine. Without an effective preventive worming programme your horse’s pasture is likely to become heavily contaminated with larvae. Once eaten, the larvae burrow into the gut lining until they mature. They then emerge from the gut wall to feed and move back into the gut to become egg-laying adults (these eggs are found on a faecal egg count). As autumn approaches an increasing number of larvae become encysted in the gut wall where they stop developing and hibernate over winter. When the larvae emerge in the Spring they can cause severe damage to the gut leading to diarrhoea, weight-loss, colic and sometimes death.
Tapeworm are made up of segments containing eggs. The adult worms attach themselves at the junction of the small and large intestine. They draw nutrients away from the horse and in large numbers can cause an obstruction which can lead to colic. Tapeworm eggs and difficult to see on faecal egg counts and so we advise worming in autumn or use of a blood test to check your horse’s exposure.
Large roundworm eggs survive for years in the field and stables. The larvae migrate through the bloodstream to the liver and lungs before returning to the small intestine to develop into adults – this can lead to fever and lung damage. Foals are especially prone to infection. Heavy worm infestation can reduce weight gain and general health in the foal and even block the gut causing digestive problems or rupture of the gut which can be fatal. You might see these large, white worms in the droppings after worming.
Pinworm live in the intestine and around the horse’s bottom. This can cause intense irritation and rubbing of the tail and bottom.
There are many other types of worm in the UK – including bots, lungworm, threadworm and fluke. For more info, ask one of our veterinary team.