Tuesday, December 22, 2009

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


lytha said...

wow melissa it sounds like listening to myself talk, reading this post!

i am exactly in the same place (except geographically, where no one worms every 8 weeks).

i did a series of fecal collection, day after day, and had it all in the fridge. can you imagine my man's face when he discovered them?

i thought a one day test would not be enough, but then, i guess i should do a weekly test all year because i know the results will change based on when you took the sample.

what is a good horse mom to do?


Anonymous said...

I've done several different worming regimes. I've done rotational, using the schedule provided by my vet - some of the horse health mags also have had schedules. I've used daily Strongid with twice yearly ivermectin (one time ivermectin plus praziquantal for tapeworms - I probably spelled that wrong!). I've never done fecal testing and our vet hasn't suggested it although perhaps they should have - our barn would be a good candidate for that since we're essentially a closed barn with no horses coming or going. I have several horses who tend to have repeated colic attacks, and they seem to do much better with daily Strongid although I certainly understand the arguments against its use.

I'll be interested to see what you find out with your testing.

Unknown said...

Since I did my equine science in school I learned that this is the appropriate way of worming. Last time I used a relatively new product called Para-X by the omega alpha company. It's natural and has no chemicals in it and I was astounded when first of all Indigo for the first time in her life did not rub her butt on the barn every September and that when her recent fecal sample went in she passed with flying colours. My vet is really leaning towards this product.

ZionFarm said...

We too are in your same place right now. Cole, our yearling Friesian colt has had quite the year health wise, and his little system is SO sensitive. We did have a fecal done on him in the Spring and it showed no worms. We wormed him a month or so ago just because it was time and we were worming the others, but it really messed him up and he acted very lethargic and loss of appetite. We have decided for him, to actually test him for worms since he has a reaction like that. Im sure all horses are different and I do not envy your job of collecting fecals on 30 horses! :)

I am very interested to hear how this progresses with you, keep us posted!

RuckusButt said...

I'm curious - what characteristics do you notice in the horses who you suspect are the worm carriers?

OT, but just look at Harmony! It is heart warming to see a 'mature' mare such as herself running around and looking so good.

stilllearning said...

lytha, do you do your own testing?

Mrs. Mom said...

Merry Christmas guys!!!

Lori Skoog said...

What a beautiful operation you have. I got here from Kate's blog (Homer and Lilly). Regarding worming...there has been so much overworming for so long! I have never done it aggressively (thank heavens)instead keep clean stalls and pick my paddocks and pastures. In regard to fecals, I have six horses here that run together and do not have samples done on each one (usually 2 different ones each time). They are always clean, probably because there is never a lot of manure around. I personally refuse to poison my horses ever 6 or 8 weeks. The Vets should have known this a long time ago. Pretty soon nothing will work if there is a real problem. Overkill.

Happy New Year. I am sure people who have sent horses to you rest easy at night.