Golden Rules of Worming
Equids and worms share a very close relationship, it has often been quoted that every horse in the land has been exposed to internal parasites at some point during their life. This makes worming possibly one of the most ubiquitous healthcare choices that a horse owner has to make. With global warming lending its influence, it is also fast becoming one of the most important decisions as well with warm wet summers and mild winters leading to a nationwide boom in parasite levels seen. Since internal parasites may be the direct cause of many forms of colic – an emergency disease which can cost upwards of £5000 for a surgical case – an appropriate time is never more present to consider recommending a wormer you believe in.
The Golden Rules of Worming
The Golden rules of worming have been designed to make you, the horse owner, aware of the benefits of strategic worming practices. This includes planning for the year ahead and the testing and monitoring of the horse to ensure that the needs of the individual horse are considered. You also need to be aware of the different types of internal parasites and their effects on the horse. Finally, you need to know and understand the type of wormer being used. Is it the correct time of year, the most appropriate one for the worms your horse may have and have you used the right dose?
Golden Rule 1: Planning
To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail. Good planning techniques are the essential basis for any successful worming regime. Understanding the relevance of all horses when forming an overall parasite management plan is a key element in this step. Young or old, directly owned or simply neighbours in a yard, these horses all need to be taken into consideration when thinking about worming an individual horse.
Golden Rule 2: Testing
It is estimated 80% of the total worm population is held within only 20% of horses, with even lifelong companions that share the same paddocks possibly having differing parasites within. Consequently, each animals worming requirement should be considered on a completely individual basis. Due to this, tests such as faecal egg counts and tapeworm tests should be recommended on a regular basis. Knowing the approximate worm burden and having a guide to the type of worms present will enable a targeted, personalised approach to be employed in developing an effective worming regime.
Golden Rule 3: Know Your Horses Worms
Although faecal egg counts and tapeworm blood tests (when performed correctly) are fantastic indicators of total worm burdens, not all parasites present within a horses system may yield a positive response every time. Therefore knowing the characteristics, life cycles and risk factors, as well as the seasonality of certain parasites, allows an educated and fully informed approach to worming, ensuring no important parasites are overlooked in the worming plan you develop.
Golden Rule 4: Know Your Wormer
Not all wormers are the same and which one is recommended should be based on a collaboration of all the previous Golden Rules. This combined approach will lead to a responsible and effective worming regime being formed, which will gain the maximum benefit for long-term success.
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