Why do Forth Valley recommend worm egg counts and what are they?
We recommend worm egg counts to identify those animals which actually need wormed. Indiscriminate use of worming drugs is not appropriate, as resistance is developing to these drugs, and they need to be preserved for when they are really needed. Worm egg counts are determined using a fresh faecal sample, and expressed as eggs per gram.
All you need to do is hand in a small amount of a fresh dung sample and we will get back to you with the results and any worming advice if required.
N.B. Maximum of 10 samples per day, per client as we may have other samples to test for other clients. Please call ahead and we will advise availability as samples need to be tested within 48 hours.
How do worm egg counts affect my worming programme?
Basically a low worm egg count during the summer months would suggest no treatment is necessary. During the winter months additional information based on previous worm egg counts, recent worming history, age and health status need to be taken into account. The complicating factor is the possible presence of encysted small redworms during these months.
How often should I worm my horse?
There is no proscriptive answer to this. Different wormers have different persistence.
Which worms is my horse most at risk from?
The worms your horse is most at risk from are Cyathostomes (small redworms). The problem is that they go into a hibernation stage in the gut of the horse, often in very large numbers during the late autumn, and winter. On occasions they can “hatch out ” en masse, causing massive inflammation and damage to the wall of the colon. This usually happens in late winter and spring. It is not well understood why this happens in some animals and not others. This is a serious condition and some affected animals will die.
How do I know which wormer to use when?
Leaving aside trade names, If you need to worm then broadly speaking use a tapewormer once yearly (praziquantel) In the absence of worm egg counts use moxidectin containing product in the Autumn, (to knock out small redworms) The persistence of this product makes it difficult for large numbers of small redworms to hibernate. With few exceptions I would preserve this drug for this purpose. If resistance develops to this drug we are all in trouble.
How do I work out what dose my horse needs?
Working out a worming dose should be base on an accurate weight, ideally based on scales. However weigh tapes are widely available. Learn to use them accurately, and repeatably. Please be aware weigh tapes frequently lead to an inaccurate weight estimate. NB If using moxidectin an accurate weight, especially in thin animals, is essential.
Do I need to worm my horse if it’s kept alone?
If a horse is kept alone there is a high chance of getting low worm egg counts. Tapeworm levels can be estimated using a blood sample. If summer WEC’s are consistently low or negative there is a very good chance that numbers of “hibernating” small redworms during the winter will be low.
Can Forth Valley provide a worming programme for my horse?
Forth Valley can provide a worming programme for your horse. These programmes should always be based on worm egg count results and augmented by information such as stocking density, pasture management regimes, ages of animals, presence of youngstock. Your Vet is ideally placed to design such a programme following discussion with individual clients. Please feel free to contact us regarding the implementation of a programme for your horse or yard.