I’m going to stick my neck out here – I don’t know much about anything when it comes to worms in horses. I have roughly 20 horses on the farm here at any one time, but my knowledge of worms and worming is purely based on what I learnt through the Pony Club system 25 years ago.
There seemed to be many rules attached to worming. My memory for these is hazy at best, so don’t be quoting me – but I feel they included but were not limited to:
*Worm every 6-8 weeks
* Swap wormers from time to time to stop resistance
* Pick up poos or harrow / cross graze
* Use a bot knife to get rid of bot eggs and make sure you worm for bots after the first frost when the bot fly is no longer flying
Then over the years I started hearing things like “Swapping wormers makes the worms more resistant” and “Overusing certain wormers may increase resistance”
So, I buried my head in the sand and decided to not think about it all too hard. I would worm my horses every now and again – probably about 3 times a year, and just using what ever wormer was on sale or was giving away a free headcollar with every box sold.
But then… In stepped Equine repro vet and self-confessed “equine parasite nerd” Holly Blue.
Holly had come along to an AGM I was running and gave a great talk on worming and I started to get that sinking feeling that I needed to a better job with my worming program or lack thereof.
Holly gave a brilliant power point presentation including some of the following points:
>>We no longer blanket treat every horse on the property at the same time. We identify them as individuals and treat them either 2, 3 or 4 times a year depending on their own genetic ability to fight off worms (as identified in Blue Blood’s testing).
>> 50% of horses only require 2 treatments per year!
>>20 % of horses have very low immunity to worms and are at risk if not identified of colic, weight loss, poor performance and even death in some cases. These horses require 4 treatments a year.
>>the 20% of low immunity horses contribute to 80% of your farm’s worm contamination on pasture-another reason to identify and target treat these guys.
>>NZ has a significant drench resistance issue emerging and more targeted de-worming strategies are required now to protect our horses from disease in the future.
>>A recent drench resistance survey published by Blue Blood has shown up to 70% resistance to some commonly used de-wormers on properties in the Auckland region!
>>Some de-wormers on the market can indirectly cause MORE worm related disease as they don’t treat the whole lifecycle of the worm.
>>Only one FEC is required to determine how often your horse needs de-worming for the whole year!
Holly and her company Blue Blood Equine also run a brilliant worming program called Worm.Ed (the educated worming programme) – here’s how it works:
Step 1 – You send in a poos sample for each of your equines – Now this can be quite challenging when you are short on time and have 20 horses. I thought maybe I could send a worker out just to gaze over the fields and sprint across to collect some poo each time I horse needed to go… But Holly had a brilliant tip – simply load (or pretend to load) each horse on a trailer or bring it into a stable and leave it a few minutes if need be. Well that certainly made the job quicker and now we have it down pat (no pun intended!) Poo samples are sent in pottles with each horses name on – along with a spreadsheet with the names / ages and weights are estimated with a supplied girth weight tape.
Step 2 – The team at Blue Blood Equine perform faecal egg counts on each sample and send you back the results along with a yearly worming planner for each horse. I was really surprised at the different levels each of my horses had – one of the worst was one who had not so long ago been tube drenched by the vet. Some mares in the broodmare herd needed more frequent wormings, others in the herd only needed two a year – saving me $$$$.
Step 3 – And here is the really cool part of the service. When it comes time for worming, I now get an email from the Blue Blood Equine telling me its worming time and the drench gets sent out to me in liquid form complete with dosage syringe. The spreadsheet tells me which horses need worming on this rotation and I get to sleep easy knowing I am doing the very best for my horses when it comes to parasite control.
Holly and her team are more than happy to answer any questions and give further information on how to sign up for the programme. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or Ph 0274862912