Horse Faecal Egg Counts...
Thankfully, the days of routinely worming horses with the same product every 6-8 weeks is long gone. As highlighted in human medicine, some medications are losing their effectiveness because of overuse of the same drugs, leading to resistance. The same situation is occuring with horses.
With this in mind, targeting worming plans are becoming more popular with horse owners. Faecal egg count kits have been around for several years, and are offered by various companies and veterinary practices. It involves sending off a fresh horse dung sample, and having it analysed under a microscope. This gives an indication off any worm eggs in the sample (usually referred to as 'eggs per gram' or 'epg'), and these results can then be targeted by specific drugs to fight specific worms.
This service is a fantastic idea and I advocate using faecal egg counts four times a year, or at other times; when I suspect a worm burden in a new horse, for example.
Although there are many positives of using egg counts (including targeting specific worms and potentially saving horse owners money if horses do not need worming), they are not perfect. Faecal Egg Counts do not show ALL types of worms; although there are now other types of tests that can now show tapeworm, pinworm, and lungworm presence. As a result, worming is still recommended in spring and autumn to target worms including tapeworms, redworms, and bots.
My local veterinary practice Coast2Coast Equine Vets offer an egg count service, and I used it a few weeks ago. I'm pleased to say that Lulas results came back showing that she is not indicating a worm burden, but due to the time of year, it was recommended to work for tapeworm and encysted red worms as these will not show up in the test. Coast2Coast were very helpful and I will definitely be using their service again!
There are MANY companies offering 'faecal egg count' services, and prices can vary, but I recommend testing your horse so that you can target your worming programme appropriately and treat any worms your horse actually HAS as opposed to worming for what your horse MIGHT (or might not) have.