Targeted testing is not only of benefit to your horse in reducing their unnecessary exposure to wormer drugs, but also in the reduction of wormer resistance which is a major growing threat.
Research has suggested that through targeted testing the use of wormers reduced by 82% and on average a yearly saving of £294 was made per yard, when compared to an interval worming programme1.
Faecal Worm Egg Count (FWEC)
FWEC’s should be conducted in the spring, summer and autumn to determine your horse’s worm burden.
The FWEC is a relatively simple procedure; you will need to collect a small sample of your horse’s droppings, selected from more than one nugget. If you are working with your vet, this sample can be sent directly to them for testing and should be done on the day of collection. Alternatively, you can purchase testing kits from designated manufacturers and post the collected sample back to them for testing.
Watch our video below for a simple guide to collecting a FWEC sample:
What do your horse’s FWEC results mean?
200 Eggs Per Gram (EPG) or less: This is a low egg count meaning no treatment is required.
200 EPG - 1150 EPG: This is a medium egg count, and your horse will need worming. Your vet will be best to advise on the appropriate wormer to use based on your horse’s individual result.
1200 EPG or more: This is a high egg count meaning your horse needs worming and your worming programme should be addressed in discussion with your vet.
Following testing if treatment is required it is best practice to check the effectiveness of the wormer with a reduction test. This allows you to see whether the treatment has been effective in killing the worms, and if not confirms that your horse has a level of resistance to the wormer drug used. If the follow up test shows a worm egg count reduction of 95% or more this suggest the wormer has been effective in its treatment1,4. Speak to your vet about reduction testing for your horse.
The Saliva Tapeworm test
This test measures the antibodies to the tapeworm present in your horse’s saliva and should be conducted in the spring and autumn. A sample of saliva is taken using a swab collection kit and is returned for testing. Results will determine whether worming for tapeworm is required. Testing kits are available through designated manufacturers, or check with your vet to see their availability for saliva testing. Please note horses should not have eaten, drunk or been exercised for 30 minutes before sampling to stabilise saliva concentration levels2,3.
Watch our video below on taking the Saliva Tapeworm test:
Blood Test – Encysted Redworm
A blood test in winter is recommended to test for encysted redworm, alternatively target this worm using a moxidectin based wormer. Blood tests can also be used during the spring and autumn as an alternative to the saliva test to assess tapeworm levels, however veterinary involvement is required meaning increased costs may be associated with this.
If pinworm is suspected, a Sellotape test can be used to detect any eggs that have been laid around the horse’s anus area. The test takes a skin impression from around this area and is examined under a microscope to look for the presence of pinworm eggs. Testing kits are available through designated manufacturers, or check with your vet to see their availability for testing.
1) Lester, H. E. & Matthews, J. B. (2013) Faecal worm egg count analysis for targeting anthelmintic treatment in horses: Points to consider. Equine Veterinary Journal. 46(2). P139-145.
2) Equisal-Tapeworm Test. Available from: https://www.westgatelabs.co.uk/services/horse-owners/equisal-tapeworm-test/
3) Lightbody, K.L. Davis, P.J. & Austin, C.J. (2016) Validation of a novel saliva‐based ELISA test for diagnosing tapeworm burden in horses. Wiley Online Library. 45(2) P. 335-346.
4) Hallowell- Evans, C & Hallowell, G. (2017) Equine worming: how to get most from egg count tests. Vet Times. Available from: https://www.vettimes.co.uk/app/uploads/wp-post-to-pdf-enhanced-cache/1/equine-worming-how-to-get-most-from-egg-count-tests.pdf