A new study reveals interesting facts about worming best practice

A new study reveals interesting facts about worming best practice

Routine testing, not routine worming, is the advice given by experts involved in a survey conducted by Countrywide, the leading equestrian supplier of products and advice, in collaboration with Westgate Laboratories, Norbrook and BW Equine Vets, where nearly 1,000 horse owners were surveyed on their current worming practice and knowledge.

“Countrywide’s aim was to invest in research that will help build awareness and start to change attitudes and behaviour in the approach to effective worming strategies,” explains Sara Blackshaw, Equine Category Manager at Countrywide. “The survey has brought out the disparities in current practice against best practice and how this is leading to the rise in resistance to wormers.

“Parasitic worms can seriously undermine the health and wellbeing of horses. With worms becoming resistant to some worming drugs, simply dosing all horses with routine wormers is not adequate. With 80% of parasites being carried by only 20% of horses, a targeted approach, which considers each horse as an individual, is needed,” says Mark Hawkins, SQP at Countrywide.


67% of horse owners believe they are protecting their horses from the rise of resistance, however, 81% are not conducting the adequate level of FECs (faecal egg counts) that experts say are the only way to prevent the build-up of resistance to wormers. Routine testing is simple and the results will help you to decide: Which horses do, and do not, require worming; which types of worms are present on your pastures; which are the appropriate worming products to use; how to achieve the most cost-effective approach to worming; how to reduce unnecessary treatments and how to maintain the efficacy of wormers by only using them when needed.

Gillian Booth owner at Westgate Laboratories comments that: “The results show that the majority of horse owners are not updating their worming practice to match the increase in resistance and improvement in testing technology. Previous worming practices have led to the resistance problems we now have so it is vital that there is change.”


Mark Hawkins explains: “All horses are susceptible to parasites, this makes worming an essential consideration. Whilst it is often easier to blanket worm a yard of horses, it is more important to develop a worming plan for each individual horse, this ensures that all the necessary parasites are targeted with every anthelmintic dose.”

Best practise worming plan - for effective worm control in a mature adult horse: spring - Tapeworm test and FEC for redworm and ascarids, summer - FEC for redworm and ascarids, autumn - tapeworm test and FEC for redworm and ascarids, winter - worm for encysted redworm (a further FEC test can be conducted in winter to monitor worm burden particularly for youngsters to assess large roundworms as they live in hay and straw).


“Without testing there is no way of knowing if a wormer is being effective. The implications of ineffective worming, can be severe and can include; weight loss or poor condition, life threatening colitis, segmental intestinal death, colic, irreversible lung damage, under performance and in some cases even death,” explains Mark Hawkins. “The cost of these incidents will far outweigh the relatively low cost of an effective worming plan incorporating tests and wormers - if they are required.”