Worm Burden

Worm Burden

Drug resistance is a growing concern within the veterinary industry and the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) have long been warning about the over use and development of resistance to some of the drugs commonly used in wormers. The routine blanket use of wormers to treat horses is therefore no longer recommended as this is thought to encourage the development of drug resistance.

The introduction of Worm Count kits has helped to enable horse owners target their worming programme so that wormers are only used where indicated. The British Horse Society (BHS) have developed the SMART worming programme to actively encourage the use of worm count kits:

Simply Monitor and Assess the Risk and Treat accordingly

Worm count kits are not just for horses on individual turnout, they can also be used on busy yards with mixed turnout, with great success and a reduction in the yards worming bill.

When to use?

For mature healthy horses we recommend doing a dung sample test approximately three times a year in the Spring, Summer and Autumn Months, this will check for the presence of redworm and roundworm. Whilst for tapeworm (saliva test) we would recommend testing twice per year approximately 6 months apart in the Spring and Autumn months.

How to use?

A sample is taken from the horse's fresh faeces (for worm egg counts) or saliva (for tapeworm). The sample is sent to the lab and assessed. The results from any kits purchased at our store are sent back to us. One of our SQP's will then contact you to advise what action needs to be taken. 

As a general guide horses for Worm Egg Count Kits :

  • A Worm Egg Count of more than 200epg (eggs per gram of faeces) should be treated with an appropriate wormer.
  • A Worm Egg Counts of less than 200epg does not require treatment, preventing the unnecessary and ineffective use of wormers. 

Wormer Medication

In cases where the use of a worming medication is indicated don't forget to follow these top tips:

  • Weigh your horse - a weighbridge will give the most accurate result, but a good alternative is a Horse Weigh tape
  • Give the correct dose for your horses weight - incorrect dosing of wormers can encourage the development of resistance of worming medications.
  • Ensure the horse consumes the correct dose by administering the drug via the syringe directly into the horse's mouth - gently raising the horse’s head briefly to ensure the wormer is swallowed is often an effective method.
  • If administering wormers by syringe directly into their mouth is not possible then it can be mixed into the horses feed.  Mix the dose into part of the normal ration and if necessary add succulents to tempt the horse. Once the wormer has been eaten, the remaining ration can be fed.

The Cost

People often fear that there will be an increased cost as they will have to purchase the worm count kit and then buy any necessary wormers, however using a targeted worming programme often works out more cost effective.

Initially there may be a period where kits and worming medication is required (if the horse is found to have a parasite problem). However by discovering the problem and using the most effective wormer for the parasite problem found, treatment is more likely to be successful and the problem dealt with quicker.

Encysted Redworm

Encysted stages of redworm are not mature so they do not lay eggs and are therefore not taken into account when testing dung samples. It is therefore important to treat for Encysted Redworms with an effective product in the winter months.


Worm count kits do not test for tapeworms, these can be tested by using the tapeworm (saliva test).

Still got a question?

If there's anything we've not covered or anything you would like to clarify we have 2 fully qualified SQP's at both our Selby and Melton Store, who are able to offer advice.


04 May 2017