As spring blossoms across the northern hemisphere, our thoughts turn to long rides, events that are on the horizon, and the glamorous joy springtime deworming horses. Of course, we want to protect our horses from uninvited visitors, but rotational deworming has the same inherent problems that ‘just in case’ antibiotic use has had for humans. It causes the parasites to gain resistance to the deworming medications. So, the latest advice from experts is to switch from a rotational schedule to FEC testing. FEC stands for fecal egg count.
FEC Testing is your guide
You may have already dewormed your equine partner this spring, perhaps even done it two or three times. You should probably still have an FEC done on your horse’s manure. A fecal egg count measures the number of parasite eggs in your horse’s manure. You can take the sample to your vet or send it off to an independent laboratory, and they’ll send you a number back such as ’50 EPG’ or ‘500 EPG.’ The EPG stands for eggs per gram.
The fun part here is that horses, being grazers, will never be completely parasite free. We need to know if they have a high load of parasites, however, and need deworming to protect them from things like colic, weight loss, diarrhea and also to protect your pastures from eggs being left behind from horses that are highly infected.
Springtime deworming horse – Know the count
Of course, with all things, money is going to be a factor. If you can only afford one test a year, it’s probably best to do it before you deworm in the spring. If the number is low (such as less that 250 EPG,) then good news, your horse probably has a good natural immunity to parasites and may not need to be dewormed as frequently. However, if the test comes back with a high count (such as more than 250 EPG), then your horse is probably carrying a lot of adult worms that are spreading them all over your pastures to other horses. If you can afford a second test per year, you should probably get it done a couple weeks after the first test, and it will tell you how well your deworming worked. If you’re dealing with medication-resistant parasites, it’s definitely time to have a chat with your veterinarian.
Abler has several dewormers available to help you keep your horse happy and healthy. All in easy to dose formulas.