Horse farming or stabling or keep has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. We have become a society where space for grazing and leisurely outrides in semi extensive conditions are just not possible any more due to the increasing demand for human housing and settlements. This also has had a great impact on the management of our horses In general. Veterinarians are continually facing more difficult situations in the form of drug resistance and parasite control for example.
Drug resistance has in the last 10 years, and escalating in the coming years become an increasingly bigger problem for the veterinarian as well as the horse owner. This means that we have to go and revisit our management practices, and deworming protocols. In years gone past horses were dewormed in the bigger more responsible yards twice yearly on the same day. The yard owner went to the shop and chose a specific brand off the counter and dewormed. This practice may not be effective anymore today. What can we as horse owners become aware of as management practices that can help with parasite control in our intensive systems today:
- Always have a worm count done (to determine what the problem may be ie. Which worm, and how big the problem may be ie. How many?)
- Choose a specific dewormer in discussion with your vet that will be effective against the prominent worm species and problem that you may have.
- If your fecal worm counts are negative, consecutively, then do not deworm. One negative fecal worm count from one horse does not necessarily mean that that horse is truly negative for worms as eggs are only shed intermittently.
- Horse droppings should be cleaned preferably once daily from all areas, stables and paddocks and arenas, or every second day at least.
- After and during a deworming protocol, dropping should preferably be picked up as regularly as once to twice daily for at least 10 days following.
- All other animals on the property (cows, sheep, goats, chickens, dogs), should also be checked and dewormed as necessary with coinciding deworming protocols especially if their areas of grazing coincide or overlap or their grass overlaps.
- Be aware that grass is a possible carrier of parasitic eggs, depending on where you source your fodder from, ie. The farmer supplying you may use cattle or sheep to graze his grasslands in between harvesting.
- Some parasites are so resistant to the available anthelminthic drugs out there that consecutive deworming are necessary. Please discuss this with your veterinarian.
- Try to create a gut environment in a natural way that will discourage the overgrowth of parasites for eg. Adding live culture probiotics, and try to avoid grains that create a lower gut pH.
If you have any further queries, please contact us at Animal Health and Hydro