Worm alert!

All horses are at risk for internal parasite infestation and therefore need to be on a good de-worming regiment.  But with so many options for de-worming, how do you know what’s best for your horse? The following quiz gives great guidelines for whether your horse needs to be on a daily de-wormer or a purge program (strong wormers several times a year).

**QUIZ – Tally up your score!**

  • Does your horse graze on pasture all year, increasing his chances of exposure to parasite larvae? (Yes=2. No=0.)
  • Do other horses, on different or unknown deworming programs, graze on the same pasture, increasing your horse’s chances of ingesting parasite larvae? (Yes=3. No=0.)
  • Does your horse nibble grass at other stables or public horse facilities-such as show grounds, fairgrounds, campgrounds, and/or highway rest stops-increasing his chances of ingesting parasite larvae? (Yes=5. No=0.)
  • Has your horse ever shown signs of heavy worm infestation? (Symptoms include a poor haircoat, weight loss, recurrent colic, or sloppy manure; or a fecal egg count of more than 100 eggs per gram.) (Yes=4. No=0.)
  • Is the collected manure at your horse’s facility spread on the pasture as fertilizer, increasing the chance of parasite larvae in his grazing pastures? (Yes=3. No=0.)
  • Is “dropped” manure in your horse’s grazing areas spread out with a harrow at least once a year? (Yes=3. No=0.)
  • Do you have a hard time keeping track of which dewormers can be used in a rotation program-possibly disrupting a purge program?(Yes=2. No=0.)
  • Do you delay scheduling your horse’s regular-care appointments, such as farriery, dentistry, vaccinations, and deworming? (Yes=3. No=0.)

Here’s what your total score means.

0-8: Your horse’s management and general condition are good enough that a well-timed purge program is adequate. It’ll minimize parasite eggs in his manure, and his risk of internal damage from worm larvae picked up in the environment is probably minimal. (Exception: If you answered “yes” to questions 3, 4, and/or 5, risk of damage increases; consider a daily dewormer.)

8-15: You’re in a gray area. Although a well-timed purge program will minimize worm eggs in your horse’s manure, other factors- such as a high concentration of parasite larvae in his environment- may expose him to internal damage.

15-25: Your horse is exposed to high levels of parasite eggs and larvae in his environment. Use a daily dewormer to protect him from internal damage caused by larvae migration.

The horses at the Green Barn score a 5, which reflects a very low chance of a parasite problem, and are therefore on a 6x a year purge program. Horses should still be tested from time to time with a fecal egg count, an inexpensive test your vet can perform which will give you a wealth of information specifically telling you how effective your de-worming program is. Remember – a good maintenance schedule is ALWAYS better than dealing with a parasite infestation.

Be proactive, not reactive!

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