Most horse owners associate the turn of autumn with perfect sunny days of riding, cool relief from the summer heat, and the business of competition season in full swing. What many don’t realise, is it’s also a crucial time to worm your horses.
Much like us, internal parasites don’t thrive at their best in an environment of scorching heat or freezing cold, and they don’t spend their entire lifecycle inside horses. They prefer moderate climates of between 22 and 30 degrees Celsius, as well as rainfall and moist pasture conditions. Those in coastal or tropical regions typically experience longer intervals of parasite activity on their paddocks year-round due to high humidity and temperate conditions. However, looking at the big picture – on average most regions throughout Australia will observe an increase in parasites from March through to the end of May.
What kind of Internal Parasites are we talking about here?
Well…all of them! Small and large strongyles as well as round worms can be present on horse farms for most of the year, with an increase in numbers during autumn and spring. Tapeworms rely on a pasture mite to carry out an important part of their life cycle, and – you guessed it, those oribatid mites prefer mild spring/autumn climates too. Bots are especially seasonal – the eggs laid on horses by the adult bot fly in late summer mature into larvae in autumn, and they will remain in the stomach to grow over winter unless treated with an effective worm.
How do I know my horse definitely has worms?
It’s considered best practice to incorporate a Faecal Egg Count (FEC) into your parasite management strategy at least once a year. Doing this during spring or autumn will ensure you get a gauge of worm egg numbers in a peak time, and you will therefore know how susceptible your horses are to the worm eggs on your pasture. High shedding horses may require more worming in shorter time intervals, whilst low shedders may only need worming perhaps twice per year. If having an FEC performed however is not a viable option for you, the next best thing you can do is worm regularly through the year using combination actives that are effective against seasonally active parasites.
So which product does my horse need in Autumn?
Wormers that contain actives from the ‘mectin’ (Abamectin and Ivermectin for example) family are a highly effective choice for the cooler months of Autumn and Winter. Many are combined with praziquantel also – often labelled as ‘plus tape’ because they do indeed treat tapeworm. Virbac’s Equimax® and Equimax Elevation® are great choices because they contain enough product to dose the equivalent of a 700kg horse, which helps to ensure that you aren’t at risk of underdosing. They also both contain mectin and praziquantel actives, whilst Equimax Elevation® also contains Pyrantel – making it an efficient combination wormer.
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