By Emily Konkel
Deworming has become essential to our horses’ health. Although horses will never be completely parasite free, deworming helps to control and protect your horse from additional parasites. A high number of parasites can lead to problems like colic, weight loss, and diarrhea. They can also be spread to other horses in the pasture through manure.
Horses are becoming more resistant to commonly used dewormers, however they should still be used. In addition to deworming, another way to help protect your horse from parasites is to have a fecal egg count performed by your veterinarian. A fecal egg count measures the number of strongyle eggs passing in each gram of manure, measured by eggs per gram (i.e. 200 EPG).
A fecal egg count should be performed in the spring before the first deworming. The fecal egg count will show the number of eggs per gram. This will also show your horses natural immunity to strongyles. If a horse has less than 200-250 EPG, they are showing a strong immunity to strongyles. If a horse has more than 200-250 EPG, they are carrying a lot of adult worms laying eggs. These horses are known as chronic shedders and should be dewormed more often than other horses.
It is ideal to have two fecal egg counts performed each year. The first, as we mentioned, should be before the first deworming. The second should be performed within 10 to 14 days after the first deworming. The second fecal egg count will show you how well your dewormer has worked. It is important that there are fewer eggs in the manure after deworming.
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