Lab offers free worm egg counts for at-risk horses

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World Horse Welfare Field Officers receive their free worm egg count packs from Claire Shand of Westgate Labs.
World Horse Welfare Field Officers receive their free worm egg count packs from Claire Shand of Westgate Labs.

A British laboratory has teamed up with international equine charity World Horse Welfare to provide free worm egg count tests to horses in need.

Worm burdens are a significant feature of the nearly 2000 callouts that the 16 World Horse Welfare field officers attend every year.

Northumberland based Westgate Labs, which offers a postal worm count and testing service, has provided training for all officers on testing methods and the most up to date treatment protocols and management and husbandry techniques for optimum parasite control.

Since then the same-day testing facility and the backup help and advice offered by the lab has proved invaluable to help address the problem of parasite infection in the nearly 100 horses tested.

World Horse Welfare’s Chief Field Officer Claire Gordon said parasite damage was one of the most common welfare problems field officers encounter when investigating reports of equine neglect.

“Not only is it one of the most common issues, but it is also one of the most preventable. Thanks to our partnership with Westgate, we can now better support horse owners in understanding the importance of faecal egg counts and an appropriate worming programme, which will really help us to improve horses welfare,” Gordon said.

Peg was only a few months old when she was taken into care. Photo: World Horse Welfare
A youngster taken into care by World Horse Welfare in 2016 was among several horses with a severe worm burden seized from a Suffolk farm. © World Horse Welfare

Westgate Labs Director Claire Shand said the company’s mission is to improve the health and worm control of horses in the UK.

“Working with World Horse Welfare is a way we can use our services and expertise to give back to some of the most vulnerable equines in the UK. The Field Officers do such amazing work and if we can help prevent a horse’s suffering or educate an owner with this partnership then it’s been worthwhile,” she said.

“We need to continue to raise awareness of test-based worm control for all horses and the issues of drug resistance which is one of the biggest black clouds facing the veterinary industry.”

Results of a 2013 study indicated that faecal egg counts could be used to identify the likely 15-20% of horses that need worming and can reduce wormer use by up to 82%. (Lester and Matthews)

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