The importance of worming broodmares and foals

Breeding horses need particular care when it comes to worming, just as their offspring do too.

Broodmares are not at risk of any particular species of worm as young horses are, but just as pregnant women are more at risk of any type of infection, mares have a lowered immune response to infections, including parasitic infestations.

Worming pregnant and lactating mares does not need to be done any more often than other mature horses, however care must be taken that the brand of wormer used is licensed in breeding horses; not all brands have undergone the extensive testing needed to prove the drug is safe for mares and their foals.

Mares will need to have treatments for tapeworms as well as encysted small redworms and bot fly larvae. They will also need regular roundworm control where the risk of infection is high. This can be established through the use of worm egg counts. Risk can be reduced by routinely removing the dung from grazing in order to break the lifecycle of the parasites whilst they are on the pasture. Because mares and their foals have reduced immune systems they can often make a pasture ‘dirty’ as they pass larger numbers of eggs and larvae onto the paddock.

Mares can even infect their foals. Around four to five days after foaling, intestinal threadworms will enter the mare’s milk to infect the foal. This is another reason why mares need to be regularly wormed during pregnancy.  However, it is still possible for foals to pick up this infection from the pasture as they would pick up other worms.

Writing worming programmes for broodmares needs knowledge on wormers and how effective they are. We shouldn’t just assume that the wormer we have put into our horse’s mouth has been effective, resistance is a real problem and using wormers with a lack of efficacy will, over time, increase the risk of horses getting heavy burdens.

Intelligent Worming can help provide peace of mind by writing programmes for individual horses based on their risk including pasture management as well as the results of worm egg counts. Over ten years of experience and dedicated equine advisors can provide programmes using appropriate drugs at correct dosing intervals for both mares and foals.

Call 01267 223322 to talk to one of our advisors about how we can help write programmes for your broodmare.