Natural Horse World

Worming

Teaching your horse to accept the worming tube is easy with positive reinforcement (clicker training) and regular practice.
Teaching your horse to accept the worming tube is easy with positive reinforcement (clicker training) and regular practice.

Worming is one of those horse care tasks we’d all rather avoid, but for your horse’s health (and even to save their life), you need to carry out a regular de-worming program.

Why use chemical de-wormers

Most of us trying to keep our horses as naturally as possible, would rather not use chemical wormers, but if you avoid them altogether, you are risking your horse’s life.

Some herbal wormers can be effective but please use regular testing to see if they are effective or need worming.
Knowing what wormer (chemical) to use and when is the basis of a good worming program.

Chemical worm resistance can be reduced by the use of fecal egg counts, and a worming program that targets the 20% of the horses that generally carry 80% of the worms. It pays to know all you can about the worms you’re trying to control so watch these videos by Equine Parasitologist Martin Nielsen.

There is now a new option to reduce roundworm burdens by feeding a biological control product that seeds the pasture with a natural strain of ‘worm-eating’ fungus called Duddingtonia flagrans (abbreviated to D.flagrans).

Bioworma is combined with a well-known supplement called Livamol and fed with a horse’s regular diet. Spores pass through the gut and are then expelled in the manure.
When the infective nematode/roundworm larvae become active within the manure, the fungus sporulates and forms a fungal web that captures, paralyzes, and consumes infective larvae.
This natural alternative is best used when weather conditions (above 5 degrees C) favor the spread of worm larvae.

Pasture Management

Taking a holistic approach by ensuring we use harrowing and resting pastures along with cross-species grazing are some of the best ways to reduce worm infestations.
Picking up manure and composting it can be time-consuming but is a good solution for smaller areas like tracks, yards, and sacrifice areas.

Larger areas are best divided into smaller pastures to enable a system of grazing and resting after harrowing. The Equicentral system of horse-keeping or a combination of a track with access to several smaller grazing areas is an ideal way to achieve this.

Problem Worms

However, to exclude all chemical wormers puts your horse at risk of colic and/or peritonitis due to the encysted small strongyle being the problem worm of today.
Neck Threadworms (Onchocerca) is a problem that needs regular worming treatments to stay on top of the itching that is caused by larvae being shed from the adult worms. This in turn attracts little biting flies called culicoides that feed on the larvae and then spread the worm by biting the next horse.

Apparently, most horses have this worm ensconced in the nuchal ligament of the neck so if you want to know how to get on top of the itching it causes, read this in-depth page by Jane Clothier on “The Disturbing Truth About Neck Threadworms and Your Itchy Horse.”

The following articles will explain why, and to get the latest information and methods for worming read Ann Nyland’s book ‘What You Don’t Know About Worms Will Surprise You!’

To have your horse accept worming without fuss, teach them with positive reinforcement and practice this between each worming session. This video shows what that would look like.

YouTube player

Worming Articles

Why I Use Chemical Wormers – Encysted Strongyles - By Cynthia Cooper I would love to be able to worm my horses more naturally, and years ago I tried it that way, but their health was suffering due to the following issues: Property too small for the number of horses (15 on less than 40 acres). Not enough help/time to pick up poo regularly and …

Why I Use Chemical Wormers – Encysted Strongyles Read More »

Colic, Peritonitis and Worms - What do these conditions have in common? Colic and Peritonitis are both serious issues that require immediate veterinary treatment, and both can be caused by worms! This is something I discovered when my 6yo Arabian stallion Finn, suffered a colic episode that also resulted in hypothermia as he went down on a cold wet day. Thankfully, …

Colic, Peritonitis and Worms Read More »

What-you-dont-know-about-Worms-Book Horse Care and parasite worm control – Harrowing pasture - Harrowing is often suggested as a preventative measure for worm control but in fact, it can actually increase worms if done in the wrong way. Horses with plenty of room on which to graze will divide their grazing into two distinct areas, 1) roughs and 2) lawns. They do nearly all their droppings in the …

Horse Care and parasite worm control – Harrowing pasture Read More »

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