• Christine Keate

Take the survey to help tackle wormer resistance

VETS are urging horse owners and stud managers to share information about their approach to worming in a bid to tackle the worrying issue of wormer resistance and, safeguard equine health in the future.


To help find a solution to the rapidly growing problem of resistance to equine worming products, UK veterinary group VetPartners has launched Project WORMS, which stands for Working to Overcome Resistance and Make for a Sustainable future.


The first stage of the project is asking horse owners to complete a short survey to find out how and when they worm, and which products they use. A separate survey will collect information from stud farm owners and managers.


Data from the surveys will help vets to work with horse owners to try to prevent serious disease and even death, due to worm resistance in the future.


Vet Julia Shrubb, deputy chair of VetPartners’ Equine Clinical Board, said in order to safeguard worming drugs in the future, vets need to understand where they are being purchased and how they are being used.


Julia, a vet at Ashbrook Equine Hospital in Cheshire, said: “Horse owners purchase wormers from a variety of source but, vets are concerned they are getting outdated or no advice at all on when and how to worm. If worming drugs continue to be used unnecessarily it increases the chances of the worms not only in that individual horse, but in the herd and on the grazing land, developing long-term resistance.


“There are no new worming products in development so we need to use the current drugs responsibly or, in the near future there could be no effective wormers. That would put us at risk of losing horses to worm damage-related conditions, such as severe diarrhoea and colic, which are currently preventable.


“Most owners want to do the right thing for their horses, but many are unaware of the seriousness of the impending resistance problems and continue to over-worm rather than using worm egg counts and other tests to find out if their horse really does need treating.


“The information horse owners tell us through the surveys will help us to help them improve worming practises in the future. This will improve the effectiveness of worming drugs for as long as possible and ultimately benefit the health and welfare of our entire equine population.”


Camilla Scott, a member of the stud team at Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons, is urging owners and managers of stud farms to support the project.


She said: “Stud managers are faced with a number of challenges including maintaining appropriate stocking densities, dealing with an often transient horse population and, managing multiple different age groups of horses on the same grazing.


“Foals and weanlings are particularly susceptible to parasites prior to developing immunity so the potential for clinical disease is a real concern. Add to this the increasing reports of anthelminitic resistance on stud farms, now is the time to act.”


Dr Rachel Dean, director of clinical research and excellence in practice and chair of the VetPartners Clinical Board, added: “Project WORMS is a great example of how we can work together across the veterinary industry and with our clients to make a difference to the health and welfare of horses.


“This research will deliver key information which will enable us to innovate our approach to worming practices.”


Project WORMS has been launched by the VetPartners Equine Clinical Board, in collaboration with other equine practices and organisations, and ethical approval was obtained from the RCVS.


The surveys are anonymous and should take horse owners less than 10 minutes to complete and no more than 20 minutes for stud owners and managers. Everyone taking part can choose to be entered into a prize draw to win £100 of Love to Shop vouchers.


To find out more about the project and access the surveys, visit: https://bit.ly/33ElUUr

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