If you are a long time horse owner, the traditional parasite control strategy has been to deworm your horse every 6-8 weeks year round, rotating products, or providing a daily dewormer in your horses feed, and deworming twice a year with a paste product. Years of constant deworming has contributed to the development of parasite resistance to many deworming products out there. With no new deworming products coming out on the market, it is vital that we practice judicious use of the products that are still available to us. It is now recommended to tailor your horses deworming protocol based off of fecal examination. In many horses the number of times you deworm your horse each year can be greatly reduced, saving you money on deworming and keeping your horse healthier.
The McMasters Fecal Egg Count is a simple test performed by your veterinarian to determine the parasite load present. This test involves identifying and counting different types of parasite eggs in a fecal sample by examining it microscopically. Results are reported in eggs per gram (EPG) of feces. In general, a low egg count (less than 150EPG) indicates a low parasite burden, while a high egg count (500-1000 EPG, or greater) indicates a large number of parasites present. High fecal egg counts suggest ineffective deworming, a lot of parasites in the environment or parasite resistance. It is recommended to repeat fecal egg counts two weeks after deworming on all high and moderate egg count horses to determine the effectiveness of the deworming product used and to identify resistance to a particular product. Fecal egg counts need to be performed at specific times. Please contact us to discuss a plan for your horse.
For some parasites, particularly Tapeworms, they only shed their eggs intermittently, so a low or negative fecal egg count does not necessarily mean the parasite isnít in the environment. Deworming programs based off fecal egg counts still rely on some scheduled deworming to control these parasites. It is recommended to deworm your horse at least once a year (in the fall after pasture) with a product that contains Praziquantal. Examples are Eqvalan Gold or Quest Plus.
Deworming strategies should be based off of fecal egg counts, age of horse, time of year and exposure level (type of pasture, exposure to unfamiliar horses). Here in Victoria, the summer months provide minimal parasite control. High temperatures (greater than 30C for five conseutive days)are required to kill parasite eggs on your pasture. Extreme cold temperatures will also kill parasites on pasture but that too does not help us much here with our temperate Victoria winters!. Please call us and we'll help you develop a strategic deworming program. Please feel free to drop off a fecal sample at our office too. All we need is one fresh manure ball, in a ziploc baggie labeled with your name and horses name on it. Manure should be less than 12 hours old, and kept refridgerated until evaluation. Fecal egg counts should be performed in the spring prior to having your horse go on pasture. They should not be done during the first 16 weeks after Moxidectin (Quest), 12 weeks after Ivermectin (Eqvalan), or 8 weeks after Pyrantel (Strongid) or Fenbendazole (Panacur) administration.