Getting started with good worm control is easier than you think.
It starts with knowing which parasites could be a threat to horse health at which times of year and using worm counts and tests to monitor infection levels in the horse, only adding wormer doses as they are needed. Combine this with pasture management and animal husbandry techniques to reduce the parasite challenge to your horse.
There are two tests that should form the basis of an effective targeted worm control programme – worm egg counts for redworm and roundworm and the EquiSal saliva test for tapeworm. Both tests give statistical results for the levels of parasites present that can be used to determine whether the horse needs treatment or not.
You may also need to consider bots, pinworm, lungworm and liver fluke in your programme if you suspect a problem.
When should you test?
A mature, healthy horse can follow a very simple pattern of testing and dosing. The basic idea is to test a small dung sample about three times a year to check for the presence of redworm and roundworm and a saliva sample twice a year to test for a tapeworm infection.
A suggested programme
Worming is only required if the tests indicate infection above a certain level. Complete the year blood testing with your vet and/or treating for possible encysted redworm in winter. Foals, youngsters, neglected or older horses will require more attention.
The following programme is a good basis for a healthy adult horse:
Once you’ve got the result, what next?
Encysted stages of redworm are not mature so don’t lay the eggs which are counted in the dung sample. It is important to treat with an effective product in the winter months (December to February) then you can rely on your worm count results over the next season.
An explanation will be given by the laboratory to help you decide whether to worm or not. Alternatively you can ask an SQP, vet or pharmacist for advice, who will want to discuss your horse’s test results in the context of worming history and general health, and can then advise on an appropriate wormer to use if this is required.
Westgate Laboratories have a friendly, knowledgeable team of SQP’s and the follow-up advice is included free of charge in their worm counts and testing service.