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I know there has been talk of parasites developing immunity for years, but this article seems to sound the alarm rather urgently. I personally do my own fecals which have always been low since my horses have come on my property (though two of them had high worm counts when I first brought them here, but have remained low since them). I think a large grazing area helps, as does living outdoors instead of in stalls where they may end up eating their hay on top of their manure. I still deworm 2x a year per my vet's recommendation, but I wonder if I could to go annual deworming.

What are your thoughts? Is this an overreaction or are people really overdoing it with dewormers?


 

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What are your thoughts? Is this an overreaction or are people really overdoing it with dewormers?
100% the latter. It's extremely important to remember that there are NO new dewormers in development, so we have nothing to rely on but what we have now. When our current dewormers lose their efficiency, that's it.
 

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What we have is what we've got. Many people don't manage the environment nor do they have access to large pastures for turnout that would support better management. We also forget that as they age a horse develops immunity to parasites. That doesn't happen when we worm religiously increasing the burden as they age. I'm not saying never treat but treat as necessary. If your horse is in good condition and has a solid body score and low counts then the population is being managed by the horse and you. Consider not worming. Horse loses condition, body score drops, you can't effectively manage the environment then look at the most effective wormer the least number of times.
 

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What we have is what we've got. Many people don't manage the environment nor do they have access to large pastures for turnout that would support better management. We also forget that as they age a horse develops immunity to parasites. That doesn't happen when we worm religiously increasing the burden as they age. I'm not saying never treat but treat as necessary. If your horse is in good condition and has a solid body score and low counts then the population is being managed by the horse and you. Consider not worming. Horse loses condition, body score drops, you can't effectively manage the environment then look at the most effective wormer the least number of times.
My horses always have very low FEC, but there are parasites that don't show up in those because we are counting eggs, not actual parasites, and some types of parasites don't shed many eggs if I understand correctly. However, I wonder if I could go to an annual deworming. All three of mine are in good condition at the moment and I am pretty good at staying on top of manure picking. They are also not going off-property right now so that probably helps.
 

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This is absolutely a concern.

It was so easy, a few years ago, when we used a certain dewormer in the spring and a certain dewormer in the fall.

My interest in soil health for rangeland got me curious about insect/manure interaction. That led me into reconsidering my deworming habit.

Now I do fecals for my own, and friends' horses. I'm much more diligent about the hygiene in paddocks.
 

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Absolutely a concern.

I stopped with the yearly deworming schedules that a vet used to give us - every year after the fecals were done, no matter the results, we would be handed a bag for each horse with a schedule and 4-5 tubes of dewormer in it. What's the purpose, other than flushing money down the toilet and decreasing the effectiveness of dewormers?

I'm really tempted to try a non-traditional deworming powder, No More Worms, Natures Magic Dust - a woman I worked for in college used this on her two draft-crosses and two miniature horses. She did fecal testing annually, and one of her ponies consistently struggled with always having issues with a high parasite load. This "magic dust" worked way better than traditional deworming pastes ever have.
 

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I think with the infrequent use of wormer chances are your horses are not going to become resistant AA...
I equate it to humans and antibiotics use...
If I overused, in reality abused taking antibiotics to treat for issues they not work for and then not finish the course of the drug...sure could see a issue in my own body.
But I don't take antibiotics for viral only bacterial infections, when they are ordered by a physician after they determine it is bacterial and take the full course of drugs so the bacterial is destroyed, not left a little behind to mutate in my body.
I rarely need the heavy-duty stuff that makes me so ill feel I'm going to die taking it...

Growing up it was the practice to worm the horse every 3 months, no fecals done...in fact not sure that word was ever mentioned to me or my parents who funded my horse as a teen.
No rotational was mentioned either...
In fact, paste worming medication was just emerging on the market so worming medication was administered by tubing the horse....we have come so far!
When paste began there were only 2 maybe 3 type/names on the market and know mine came from the vet actually and he wrote on the box what month to administer it...

I truly think when you use some thought to what you are doing, why and when along with what products you are presenting your issue of resistance is going to be a non-issue.
I don't do feed through daily as some do....don't find the need or reason to offer a, in-fact poison to my horse to be ingested daily to kill what may or more the chance is not present in their body. If that is someone's preference, more power to you and your diligence to keep your animal{s} healthy.

For myself, my horses are in a closed herd setting.
We have contact with only the neighbors horses and when I worm she also does so anything and everything is hopefully eradicated from all our animals at the same time.
Now, I do worm 2x a year normally.... once for the ridding of the horses from bot eggs and worms that come from the flies in over abundance we all deal with. And then to rid them of any tapeworm or similar since studies have found horses living east of the Mississippi River 60% of them are infected.... the number is higher for the midwest by the way and skyrockets for horses in other parts of the world.
So, yes I do worm for preventive measure not just because there is a known issue since not all worms show on fecals.
If my horses also suddenly look "off" to me...weight loss, rough coat, diarrhea and of course colic in which case that rectal exam is probably going to show evidence of the icks when the gloved arm is removed.. I treat.
What and how I and my neighbor do works for us and our closed herd.
Our horses are not exposed to other animals nor are they off grazing where other horses go at parks or show grounds...another reason my horses are not permitted to ground graze nor sniff poop of other horses forget nibble at it fresh! I know many not understand the value of no grazing at common areas but there it is....keeps mine healthier and once their hay hits the ground at a common area of horse gathering it is left their...not scooped up and taken home...don't do that!
If you keep a closed herd, keep a neater existence home and follow some simple precautions so much less chance of infection presents itself.
You could worm every month, but if you don't treat the animal{s} that is the carrier then you are just pushing a empty envelope in a circle never gaining better health for yours... braking the cycle is what it is about!

I don't think I would go to one time a year though worming AA.... the reasons for treating is more than just the seen as you say and for me personally has a lot to do with other environmental things like bots and the need to stop them and their cycle seen exterior and the damages interior they can do and neck threadworms which are not seen.
The fact you also have a youngsters in your herd also it is said the younger are more apt to carry and grow a worm-load issue and for Harley I think the added protection is worth the small expense and time factor involved administering.
Harley is also a reason to continue to truly protect as his immune system weakens with advancing age.

Regardless of what others do, do what has been working for you and don't chance or change it....
You're managed at the moment and truly do not want to have to play catch-up if a incident occurs it could be far-reaching in your horses future health interests.
jmo...
🐴....
 

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There is currently a theory being seriously contemplated in the (human) medical circles that the huge increases in autoimmune diseases are due to lack of parasites in the human population in the affected locales. They are speculating that our bodies are made to cope with a parasite load and since there isn’t a whole lot of that the immune system is “over-capacity”. I am not saying it has anything to do with horses or to stop deworming but I am guessing that their bodies are also made to fight against the little pests. Mind you - we would lose some horses and some humans in the process of getting us all back in sync with the natural order. And I am guessing that not all individuals would survive childhood and foal-hood without deworming.
 

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It's extremely important to remember that there are NO new dewormers in development, so we have nothing to rely on but what we have now. When our current dewormers lose their efficiency, that's it.
Another facet of this to remember: the reason our current dewormers lose efficiency is because the worms are becoming resistant to them. Spelled out this means all worms that were still affected by it are killed, meaning only the resistant ones are reproducing. And since resistance is often genetically carried over, all offspring will be resistant too... A sobering thought.

The idea with deworming is not to eliminate all worms in a horse - just making sure to prevent parasitic disease.

Also, performing a FEC before deciding if a deworming against strongyles is needed is slowly accepted procedure. However, the even more important step of doing another FEC two weeks after the deworming is often left out. Without the second FEC there is no way to know if your dewormer was even effective...

@ClearDonkey, I know Diatomaceous Earth (DE) as dewormer and for insect control is all the rage. However, it is important to know that it only keeps its abrasive properties (and hence how it works against insects and worms) when dry... Once it's ingested I would argue the dry part is out the window ;)
 

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When relying on fecal samples as indicators of parasites then remember that they don't show results for tapeworms, bots or encysted small strongyles (Cyathostomes) and they are probably the most dangerous and debilitating of the parasites.
ENCYSTED STRONGYLES – SMALL WORMS, BIG PROBLEMS – Vet Services Hawke's Bay (vshb.co.nz)

There is a saliva test for tapeworm and it is now available in the US
Targeting Tapeworm Treatment Using EquiSal Tapeworm Saliva Testing - EquiManagement

The resistance to dewormers is a direct result of owners using daily deworming methods and even a monthly system, using the same active ingredient each week.

Deworming twice a year, using a targeted active - for example, Moxidectin for encysted strongyles and Praziquantel for tapeworms and bots - is unlikely to create a resistance but it will protect your horse from potentially life threatening parasites

Combine that with good pasture management and careful attention to removing bot eggs and you can reduce problems by a lot

Unfortunately, tapeworm are spread to the horse by pasture mites that the horse ingests while grazing
 

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@ClearDonkey, I know Diatomaceous Earth (DE) as dewormer and for insect control is all the rage. However, it is important to know that it only keeps its abrasive properties (and hence how it works against insects and worms) when dry... Once it's ingested I would argue the dry part is out the window ;)
I'm just relaying my one experience with it 😉 The fecal test place was very doubtful of the effectiveness of the product but was shocked at the results of the fecal tests after using the product. When the woman I was working for told me about this, I did an internal eyeroll (previous to this she told me about the magic of essential oils saving her pony from dying from a vaccine) but her horses are by far the best kept and looking pasture pets I've ever seen!
 

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I'm just relaying my one experience with it 😉 The fecal test place was very doubtful of the effectiveness of the product but was shocked at the results of the fecal tests after using the product. When the woman I was working for told me about this, I did an internal eyeroll (previous to this she told me about the magic of essential oils saving her pony from dying from a vaccine) but her horses are by far the best kept and looking pasture pets I've ever seen!
We had good results as well, also confirmed by fecal. Completely kicking chemical dewormers also fixed the resistant parasite issues. (wasn't a fun process though)

This was all with goats, not horses. The horses are also getting DE now, haven't ever felt the need to get a fecal done though.
 

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In all my years of owning horses I have never done a fecal, I just keep my horses healthy and back in the day like in the 80' and early 90's I dewormed my horses 4 times a year that was pretty much the normal here in South Texas, never ever had a problem. But as the years go by and more studies in horse health and gut wise we are learning so much., I only deworm twice a year now and have been for 20 plus years and still never have done a fecal on my horses and still never had a worm problem with any of my hoses.
 

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Yes, absolutely. People over de-worm & it isn't healthy for the horse in the long run. I only do fecals & deworm if necessary.
Annual deworming is definitely better or even twice a year; any more than that, it's overkill IMO.
 

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Since you do your own fecals (as I do) may I suggest that you try adding a scoop of Uckele Poly Copper to your horses feed. It would be a fairly cheap experiment. Use it for a month and see if you have any eggs. As long as I keep the copper bumped up, I tend to see zero parasite eggs. Copper sulphate was one of the go-to wormers prior to the introduction of anthelmintics. One mid-20th century researcher believed that copper sulphate didn't necessarily kill the parasites outright, but rather strengthened the gut lining, and also just simply caused the parasites to detach and pass through. I still worm at least once a year for bots and encysted strongyles.
 

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I've pretty much stopped altogether 3 years ago. I was treating only the high shedders prior to that. With the lowered number of animals and management that is much easier to keep up with all are low at this point. All but one is over the age of 6 when immunity is strong. If the one under six shows signs of developing a heavy load then she'll be treated. As the others get on up in age they'll be watched as well. I don't have any that are considered aged at this point.


If you do decide to do as dog patch suggests then update the thread with what you find.
 
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