Sep 152019

Equine Parasites Burdens are on the Increase worldwide.

Parasites populations are increasing, and horses are becoming more resistant to chemical wormers.

Hence they are burdened with parasites which can have devastating consequences. We have come to depend on Fecal Egg Counts to determine worm burdens, but unfortunately there is evidence that this is not an exact science and not reliable.

Parasites can cause a multitude of problems systemically:

  • Recurrent or fatal colic
  • Ulcerated and bleeding digestive system
  • Damage to the liver and other internal organs
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Poor hair coat
  • Pot-bellied appearance
  • Lethargy
  • Damaged and irritated lungs and blood vessel damage

The Dung Beetle activity in controlling the parasites and flies that affect livestock, pets and people, and secondary seed dispersal, have become almost extinct. 

However, the farming practices used for the management and control of the livestock–pasture ecosystem can have serious ecological consequences as a result of the chemical products commonly used. Residues of herbicides, insecticides, and antiparasitics produce imbalance in the environment that affects the soil fauna, especially the dung beetles.

The Role of Dung Beetles in the sustainability of pasture and grasslands

Negative Impacts of Human Land use on Dung Beetle Functional Diversity

Dung Beetle populations are being killed off by cattle medication:

Of course it is all about What Lies beneath the soil and it’s amazing ecosystem. It simply is not functioning as nature intended it to, as we have interfered with the whole system and the consequences are becoming more evident each day, and there are so many layers to this whole ecosystem.

So once again it all comes back to good grazing management and respectively we all need to take responsibility for the part we play in having healthy soil Biodiversity.

This is a subject that I intend to write further articles on, to offer you all some important in dept information on the connection to Biodiversity and parasites and also equine diseases.

We need to be careful as it is proven that horses are building up a resistance to chemical wormers:

  • Roundworms (Ascarids): Ivermectin, moxidectin, pyrantel
  • Strongyles: Fenbendazole, pyrantel, albendazole
  • Pinworms:


So we understand that parasites are on the increase, in our lands for various reasons, of which I will go into more detail in another article.

For now, we need to address the current issues on how we all can address this and make the necessary changes to our worming programmes. and here are a few tips for you all to make these changes.

We can however incorporate herbal wormers in conjunction with the chemicals. They do work and I have seen dramatic results after applying these principles to my own horses here on my farm with their use, although they need to be given frequently and over a few weeks each time, they can be added to the feed daily and horses find them extremely palatable.

It is best to not over use the chemical wormers for many reasons and to ensure they do not become resistant to them.

The one chemical wormer that we can rely on at present is a sheep wormer called Cydectin oral sheep drench, it contains moxidectin 1% and is extremely safe and effective for horses to date.

Only use in Spring and Autumn particularly on a full moon. 

Using herbal parasite blends throughout the rest of the year is certainly safe and horses won’t become resistant to the herbs thankfully.

We also can grow Anthelmintic plants by adding certain herb seeds like Sainfoin to our pastures. 

Sainfoin is high in tannins and with anti parasitic properties. This is because the consumption of sainfoin, as an example of a tannin-continuing legume, disturbs biology of three main stages of the parasite life cycle: the eggs, the infective larvae and the adult worms. The effects are the reduction of parasite egg excretion ( due to wither a lower fertility of female worms or fewer worm numbers) a lower development of the eggs to larvae, or a lower establishment of the Infective larvae in the animals.

Here is a link to where you can buy these seeds: