Risk and Reality: Horse Parasite Control and Anthelmintic Resistance

Managing parasites and preventing worm-related disease in horses is a complex topic. Learn why fecal egg counts are important and how to identify which anthelmintic (deworming) treatments are effective on your farm.

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horse parasite control
The worm population on your farm includes the worms in each of the horses and also in manure and on the pasture. | Photo: iStock

How can you reduce internal parasite infection and manage anthelmintic resistance on your farm?

Do you know which of your horses has parasites? Chances are they all do, to one extent or another. What’s more important is knowing which horses have the highest fecal egg counts and which anthelmintic (deworming) treatments are effective on your farm. These are the first steps in developing a strategic horse parasite control plan for your farm.

When adopting such a management strategy, the primary goal is to prevent horses from amassing extremely high worm burdens, which, although uncommon, can cause signs of colic, diarrhea, and weight loss. Two secondary goals help achieve this:

  1. Reducing the worm burden on pastures (which reduces horses’ rate of infection and reinfection); and
  2. Maintaining the long-term ­efficacy of available dewormers.
RELATED COMMENT: Deworming Guide

​Equine parasitologist Martin Nielsen, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVM, an associate professor and the Schlaikjer professor of equine infectious disease at the University of Kentucky’s Gluck Equine Research Center, in Lexington, says that in managing your horses’ own parasite population, you are managing that of the entire farm

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Written by:

Jill Griffiths is a freelance writer specializing in agriculture and environment and resides in Western Australia. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Graduate Diploma in Journalism. Through her work, she interacts with leading researchers across Australia, providing her with access to current research in many fields. A life-long horse lover, Griffiths came to horse ownership in mid-life and currently shares three horses with her young daughter. She enjoys groundwork, trail riding, flatwork, and just hanging out with the horses in the paddock.

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