So, how do we reduce parasite resistance to deworming medication?
Finally, as alluded to in the last post, we don’t recommend treating horses with a daily dewormer of any kind. We’ve been looking at fecal egg counts carefully for the past several years, and many of the horses with sky-high fecal egg counts have been treated in the past with these daily dewormers. These horses cannot be safely treated with Ivermectin initially, due to the risk of colic from the quick kill-off of so many parasites, and the parasites tend to be resistant to the “gentler” (i.e. less effective) deworming medications. It’s a tough situation which requires frequent fecal egg counts to monitor progress, and a rigorous deworming protocol to bring the parasites under control.
For more information on our parasite control program, check out the PDF here. Remember, submit your horse’s fecal sample before you deworm, to allow us to make recommendations on what to use, when to use it, etc. To submit a fecal, collect two fecal balls of fresh manure (produced with the last 12 hours in cool weather, 6 hours in warm weather), place in a plastic baggie, squeeze as much air out as possible, and seal. Keep cool (refrigerated) until drop-off or pick-up, and be sure to submit within 48 hours of collection – give us a call to arrange pick-up/drop-off. We’ll perform the fecal egg count as well as a sand test (that’s the subject of a whole ‘nother blog!), and call or email you with results within a few days.
It’s important to remember, however, that fecal egg counts and deworming are not the only measures which can be used to control parasites on your farm. Pasture and manure management are very important as well. If you have the space for it, consider dragging and then RESTING a pasture for about a month during the summer, to allow parasite eggs to dry out and die. If you have a smaller farm which doesn’t allow for rotation of pastures, try to remove the manure from the pasture at least once a week. Do not drag a pasture that you cannot rest for a period of time, however – turning horses out on to a pasture that has been freshly dragged will just increase exposure to parasites. It may seem obvious, but avoid spreading manure collected from stalls onto an active pasture. Any manure you collect should be brought as far away from your barn and pastures as you can manage it, and then allowed to compost until well broken down. The heat of a good, steaming compost pile will kill any eggs or larvae quickly, but give it plenty of time to break down before using as fertilizer for pastures or a garden.
We have the tools to decrease parasite resistance, and it doesn’t take much more time or money compared to the way horses have been dewormed in the past. In fact, many farms can decrease the money they spend on parasite control when they institute a “strategic deworming plan”, as this system is sometimes called. With a little thought and planning, we can keep our deworming products around and effective for years to come. Any questions? Ask away!