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Roundworms, tapeworms and bots can infect your horse causing several problems including: weight loss, failure to thrive, mild to severe colic and diarrhoea which can on occasions become life threatening.
Adult worms in the intestines release tiny eggs that contaminate the pasture. The eggs hatch and release immature worms that are eaten by other horses and the cycle starts again.
Foals and young horses are most susceptible to worms; older horses can also show signs of disease if heavily infested.
'Poo picking' is a very useful way to keep worm population on the pasture to a minimum. This involves regular picking up of all droppings so that worm eggs are removed from the pasture.
Rotating the grazing with cattle/sheep is also useful, they will clean the pasture by eating horse worms. Horse worms do not cause disease in cattle/sheep and vice versa.
Worm Egg Counts
The test involves counting the number of roundworm eggs in a sample of fresh faeces.
This can be done in our laboratory and we will report on whether there is a low, moderate or high count. We will then advise on whether your horse needs worming and what product is appropriate.
A worm egg count only tells us about adult worms, it does not include young 'Red Worms'.
The presence of tapeworms requires a saliva test, the testing kit can be obtained from the practice.
At the end of summer or early autumn, young 'Red Worms' can burrow into the lining of the gut and hibernate for up to 3 years.
The young worms can all come out of hibernation at the same time, usually in late winter or early spring.
They can cause huge damage to the gut lining that results in severe diarrhoea, protein loss, anemia and in some cases death or euthanasia.
The treatment is long and expensive with the horse still being left with long term gut damage.
Only two wormers are licensed to kill Encysted Red Worms; these are Equest and Panacur Equine Guard.
Foals can pick up worms from their mother's milk, this can result in diarrhoea.
They should be wormed from 1 month old with an ivermectin based wormer and redosed every 2 months.
At the end of first grazing season, they should be given a Panacur Equine Guard or Equest to kill any hibernating 'Red Worms'.
Equest can not be used in young foals.
All new horses arriving on a yard should be wormed with Equest or Panacur Equine Guard.
Horses should be wormed against tapeworm once a year. If results say it is a problem, this should be increased to twice a year.