Monday, May 3, 2010

Science VS tradition: De-worming, AKA whats in your road apples?

"Many people have sighed for the 'good old days' and regretted the 'passing of the horse,' but today, when only those who like horses own them, it is a far better time for horses. " ~C.W. Anderson

This weeks science vs tradition is kind of a short one. There is a pretty cool give away coming up so stay tuned.

As concerned horse owners we only want the best for our hooved family members. We hay and grain with the best available. Provide fresh, clean water, vet when necessary and de-worm regularly to assure our horses do not become infested with parasites and become ill or die. Which brings us to the subject of the season: Worming.

So much has changed recently on this subject. In the last 30 years or so only when a horse had a dull coat or was off his feed it was regular to feed him some de-wormer. In the last few years rotational worming has taken over that. Every two to three or four months you worm your horse with a tube or pellet laced with some sort of chemical aimed to kill the type of worm most likely to be making residence in your dearest clip clop at the time of year.

But is that really enough?

Is it really too much?

The answer to that question is two fold and the only way to know is by getting a fecal exam done by your vet.
Yup, poop. It seems to be the topic of horse people more frequently than other animal owners.
Comes out mostly the same as it goes in when the horse is in regards.

Some horses are talented and can go and canter at the same time like this mare.

The average horse makes up his body weight in poop in a week or two. Thats talking a lot of sh*t.

A week ago our vet Dr.Bob came out to give rabies vaccinations and do teeth. I had him take fecal samples to test to see what I needed to worm for since the annual spring de worming was coming up. I seen him again yesterday at one of my farms as I was holding horses for the owner.
I inquired about the results from the fecal exams. He beamed at me and exclaimed "The horses are clear. Come back to me in about six months for another exam." I was ecstatic. Not only did I use a natural herbal wormer last time, I just saved myself a lot of money by getting an exam done instead of just guessing for the next 6 months and spending 20$+ on a wormer every other month. The fecal exam cost me $30 per horse. What a deal!

I love the fact that for 6 months or so I do not have to put chemicals into my horses. I love the fact that I am not contributing to parasite resistance. I love the fact that I am using science over traditional worming methods by not rotating various chemical brands without knowing what parasites my horses might have.

Every single type of chemical wormer has now shown parasite resistance. What does this mean? It means we are putting chemicals into our horses that should kill parasites but instead they are thriving on our $20+ tube of chemical. If they become completely resistant we are going to have to resort to harsher chemicals or stick our heads between our legs and kiss our horses butts goodbye.

Or we can get fecal exams done.

Honestly when we bring our dogs or cats to the vet we get a fecal exam done. Normally they are not wormed unless we get fecal exams done and know what they have. Horse medicine is so behind sometimes.

Here is a low down on chemical worming medicines available on the market at the safe guard site,

If your horse was infested at the time of the fecal exam another fecal exam should be done 2 or 3 weeks after the proper de-wormer was administered. This will tell you if the parasites have a resistance to the type of chemical in the wormer you have used.

So here is a little poll I would like you all to participate in. Please comment below on why you do this specific type of worming. I would love to know.

The only downside of this that I can think of is that Indigo does not get the yummy herbal wormer she would drink right out of the bottle if I let her. She is going to be so disappointed.



Anonymous said...

As I understand it, fecal egg counts do not show immature or encysted worms so should be used with caution. They also do not detect tapeworm - a blood test is required to ensure there are none present. So what is the best long term program to reduce reliance on chemical wormers, given that encysted strongyles are one of the most common internal parasistes in horses but are not detected in fecal egg counts?

Here's an interesting article written by a vet on the use of natural wormers:

lisa said...

Would you tell me a little more on the the herbal dewormer and how you use it and when? I use daily wormer and use Ivermectin twice a year but I really do hate using them but I have never been told of other alternatives.

Dreaming said...

I had been worming 4 times a year with de-wormers recommended by our vet. However, even our vet has changed his tune and wants to test first. Seems to make a lot of sense. Who knows what all of the chemicals can do years down the road.

Sydney said...

Anonymous- The encysted strongyles are not detectable by fecal flotation examination. Because of this issue my vet does not use this method. I did my research being a student of equine science.

Lisa- I use the herbal wormer when my horse needs it, as in theres signs in my fecal tests. I found with that para X there it wiped out the parasite population in the next fecal egg count. It actually did work, unlike a lot of other herbal wormer's.

Paint Girl said...

My vet talked to us about the fecal egg count test this year. We are considering having it done. I think it will be worth the money to find out the wormy situation.

Jessie McCandless said...

Yep, definitely time to do something different for me as I've encountered way too much resistance. Now if I can just figure out my vet's resistance LOL!

I've started the "alternative" route by making sure my paddocks stay as clean as possible. I figure the less manure there is, the less the chance is for contamination as well.

I followed your link, but is there a way to order it online? Tractor Supply doesn't carry it, if you can imagine :)

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

So interesting..I've been thinking A LOT of vaccinations and wormers being my boy hasn't had ANYTHING in him since October b/c of his chemical founder, we are playing it safe. I will be a NERVOUS wreck when he's close to 100% and I have to do vaccinations again, nervous it will cause some reaction.

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