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Thoughts on De-Worming

As a farm manager you have a lot of odd topics that are constantly rumbling around in your head. One thing that has been on my mind lately is de-worming. There are two schools of thought on this topic. The first school says to aggressively de-worm and double dose most of the classes of wormers, and each horse should be PowerPac’d at least once a year, some recommend a PowerPac twice a year. The thought is that fecals do not show all worms that are present in a horse, only those that are in the digestive tract, and not even all of those since encysted worms obviously do not show on a fecal count. Tapeworms used to not be detected but I think maybe there is a new test but I am not positive if/where I read that.

The other school of thought when it comes to de-worming is that more and more resistance is being documented to almost every class of de-wormer we have available today. This school of thought says we need to be using as little de-wormer as possible, daily de-wormers should be abhorred and avoided like the plague, and fecals should be used to determine if a horse should be de-wormed and with what class of chemical.

There are compelling arguments for both trains of thought. I have been swayed by both sides and I still don’t know exactly where I stand. I do know that I have read enough articles documenting the rampant resistant caused by using daily de-wormers that I am not going to be considering that route. That being said, as I understand it, we would have the right type of set-up for using a daily de-wormer since we essentially have closed herds. I am not saying I am against the use of the daily wormers at all, and in fact many (many!) years ago used daily de-wormer on my own horses. I stopped mainly because I did not like the idea of putting poison in my horses on a daily basis.

After having a long discussion on the topic of de-worming with one of our vets today I think I am going to start collecting fecal samples and having them tested. I am not going to go out and collect 30+ fecals samples tomorrow, but over time plan to collect samples. The horses are in the barn regularly for grooming, seeing the farrier, etc. so there should be ample opportunity to collect samples. I can’t think of a more glamorous way to spend a day. I can imagine the looks of horror on the faces of my non-horsey friends when they ask me what I did at work today and I respond with “I collected fecal samples.”

I don’t know if I am quite ready to make the leap of only de-worming based on fecals, but I do want to know if we have any resistance issues on our farm with any of the wormer classes. I would also like to try and identify the horses that tend to be ‘worm carriers,’ those horses that don’t naturally have high immunity to worms. I have my guesses about which horses these might be. The current de-worming regime is every other month using rotating classes of chemicals based on the time of the year. Maybe we can develop a more targeted protocol using the fecals.

I guess the bottom line is I am still wavering between the two schools of thought and I am not quite sure where I fit in yet. Your thoughts are welcome, I am very interested in hearing how and why you arrived at your current de-worming protocol.

The adorable Cuff Links


Sebastian and Winston

Gray mares on the run, Harmony, Buffy and Lily

Harmony and Buffy

Clay enjoying a nice roll

Baby, Homer, Leo and Trigger

Apollo and Ivan

Dustin and Trigger

Elfin and Thomas

Tony and Apollo

L-R Elfin (his head anyway!), Apollo, Dustin on the run and Thomas

Bella the dog, Thomas, Elfin, Chance and Homer

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