Most horses only need to be de-wormed two to three times per year. You need to rotate commercial de-wormers’ active ingredients to prevent resistance.
A new approach for worm control is strategic de-worming, in which you only treat at certain times of the year — spring through fall — or when fecal egg counts rise.
Fecal egg counts involve horse owners submitting fresh manure samples to a lab. Results are expressed as eggs per gram of manure.
“A fecal egg count of less than 200 epg suggests a light parasite load,” the American Association of Equine Professionals states. “Horses with high fecal egg counts of 500 to 1,000 epg suggest the interval between de-worming is too long.”
Generally, most horse owners de-worm their horses — whether they need it or not — every eight to 10 weeks, based on the old recommendations. This practice has led to the development of drug resistance in worm populations. We have a limited number of de-wormer products to use. To keep these de-wormers effective, we must employ new strategies to prevent resistance.
An estimated 20 percent of the horse population harbors 80 percent of the worm population. The other 80 percent of our horses may only need de-worming twice per year: once in the spring and once in the fall. This will help prevent resistance and save you money.
Our Crestview office will conduct fecal egg counts for area horses. Interested horse owners should go to our website at http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu/ag/ or call me at 689-5850 for more information.
Jennifer Bearden is an agent at the Okaloosa County Extension office in Crestview.