Reply To: Deworming advice – fecal tests?

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I know fecals are being touted as an awesome way to handle deworming. I agree that there are horses who carry higher loads than others, and we need to stop the constant deworming to prevent resilience and super worms. I don’t personally put much stock in fecal tests, considering the moment the ball of manure hits the ground, it can be contaminated with outside worms. Nothing beats waiting for your horse to poop to grab a fresh sample.

What I find interesting, and what surprised me, was that my vet mentioned that they are now considering the fact that there could be safe “base loads” of a population of worms that horses have. If the load is light and not causing problems, he said that it might be better to leave it be than deworm it and cause more resilience in that population. This makes me wonder just how awful worms are for horses if they can have base populations living inside of them with no harm done. Tapeworms are obviously bad, but with other worms I find it to be interesting.

My vet touted this “deworming program” a few years ago that would have cost us like $100+ a year, per horse, to do tons of fecal samples and get advice on deworming. I passed, because the last time I got a fecal done, all they told me to use was ivermectin to get rid of strongyles in a mare that was having some issues. Well duh, I was already going to do that anyways, but they insisted on a fecal test. I didn’t need to pay $25 for them to tell me what I already knew. The last time I had issues with weight after a winter in both horses (pastured together) I dewormed them and they put weight on quickly. Didn’t need to waste $50 on fecal samples to tell me it was a worm problem.

I can understand doing fecals for the first year you own a horse to get an idea of the load, but other than that I’ve never embraced them. I would have to wait around the barn (I board) to get fresh samples, then drive the samples down to the vet on my own time, pay $50 to cover both horses, then wait for results, pay to deworm them if need be, then repeat if I had to worm them. Or, I could save the gas/time and drive to the tack store, pay about $25-$30 to cover both horses, and deworm them. I usually only deworm before season changes (like summer to fall) or when I’m noticing problems with rubbing their tails or losing some weight. As of now, I have never had big problems with worms.

My vet may also be pricey compared to others (he’s kind-of the best around here and really the only option I know of). But definitely check out what your options are with your vet too, because it might not be as bad as my experience either.