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Float Your Own Manure

Managing Intestinal Parasites

One crucial aspect of equine care is managing intestinal parasites. These microscopic creatures can cause significant harm to your horse if left untreated.

Resistance of internal parasites to the available off-the-shelf wormers is a real problem for horse owners. 

The Current Advice 

We are encouraged to establish an appropriate deworming schedule for our horses. It used to be every six weeks. However, overuse of dewormers has contributed to resistance.

 We are encouraged to rotate between different classes of dewormers. This strategy is supposed to prevent the parasites from becoming resistant to a particular product, but this is a scattergun approach, hoping we get any internal parasite almost by accident. On top of that you might be subjecting your horse to chemicals for worms they don't have, which disrupts their gut, and it's expensive. 

Float Your Own Poo

The gold standard is to perform fecal floats which will identify exactly which parasites exist, and estimate their numbers within your horse. This means you can use the specific dewormer that addresses that particular parasite, and ideally do a follow up float to see if that has been effective.

 A fecal float only identifies worms that happen to be shedding eggs at that particular moment, so ideally you will perform a number of floats over time to catch all stages of the worm cycle.

It has become increasingly unaffordable to get the vet to do this for you, particularly at a frequency that would be useful. Even parasite diagnostics, where you post your poos for analysis are around $80 each. It's not practical for your average horse owner.

But you can float your own poos.

Yes. It's not complicated. A child could do it. What a great way to show your kids science at work in the real world. Equipment is easy to buy, just from eBay. After an initial investment in a basic microscope and McMasters slide, you are set up to accurately identify parasites in your horses for free forever! Then you can use dewormers strategically. 

We use the McMasters method.

Here is a video on that 

(One note - she collects fecal matter directly from the butt. You don't need to do that. You can just wait for them to pass it.)

If you're skeptical about YouTubing your parasite management, Ruralbiz offers training courses on how to do this. It's $325 - a good investment in ensuring you are floating correctly.

Imagine for example - we have nine horses on the property. If we repeatedly float over a few weeks, and there are zero eggs in 8 samples, and eggs only in one - there's 8 deworming tubes at around $30 each = $240 that we are not buying. It doesn't take long to pay itself back.

A Wholistic Approach 

You can read more about managing parasites naturally by following the links below, including collecting manure, harrowing, paddock rotation, encouraging birds to break apart your manures. You can also supporting gut health and reduce parasite burden with prebiotics and probiotics. At only 10g per day, these supplements are great bang-for-buck to improve gut health.

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