Hungary horse farms slow to adopt latest parasite control methods

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Research has revealed that hardly any farms in Hungary use faecal egg counts (FECs) to guide deworming treatments in horses.
Research has revealed that hardly any farms in Hungary use faecal egg counts (FECs) to guide deworming treatments in horses. Photo by The Donkey Sanctuary

Many Hungarian horse owners are still using the old approach of rotating anthelmintic treatments at regular intervals for parasite control, despite expert advice against such old methods.

In recent years, experts have advocated a targeted or strategic approach to worm control, rather than relying on regular treatment, because of the growing threat of anthelmintic resistance.

A recent report found that almost no farms in Hungary use faecal egg counts (FECs) to guide deworming treatments.

Kinga Joó and colleagues conducted a study to investigate risk factors associated with strongylid egg counts.

The research team collected faecal samples from 216 sport and pleasure horses, kept on 13 farms in Hungary. The horses ranged from 5 months to 30 years of age, and had last received anthelmintic (dewormer) treatment at least 60 days previously.

None of the farms involved in the study had previously used FECs to guide deworming treatments.

The research has been reported in Veterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports, with analysis showing:

  • most of the faecal worm egg production was due to a limited number of horses. Only 22% of horses were responsible for 80% of the total strongyle egg output. This is in line with the findings of other studies.
  • young horses (less than 5 years of age) had significantly higher FECs than horses 5 to 17 years old and those aged over 17 years.
  • horses treated with benzimidazoles (eg fenbendazole) at least once a year had significantly higher FECs than equids that had not received benzimidazoles.
  • horses kept at very high stocking densities (>30 horses/ha) had significantly higher EPG-values than horses kept at lower stocking densities.

“The traditional frequent anthelmintic treatments should be abandoned and replaced by more sustainable deworming programs,” the researchers said.

They concluded that “the results demonstrate the value of FEC monitoring and indicate that the efficacy of benzimidazoles should be investigated in Hungary. Moreover, our findings demonstrate that reducing stocking density should be considered in cases of high strongylid FECs”.

Evaluation of risk factors affecting strongylid egg shedding on Hungarian horse farms. Kinga Joó, Roxána L Trúzsi, Csenge Zs Kálmán, Virág Ács, Szilárd Jakab, András Bába, Martin K Nielsen. Vet Parasitol Reg Stud Reports (2022). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vprsr.2021.100663.

The study, published under a Creative Commons License, can be read here.

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