A Faecal Egg Count (FEC) should form part of the worming program for every horse, pony and foal.
An FEC is a quantitative technique in which a measured quantity of faeces is mixed with a known volume of flotation solution. A sub-sample of that mixture is then examined microscopically to count the number of strongyle eggs present. The result is then reported as the number of eggs per gram (EPG).
In the past, the standard worming program has been to worm every horse every 6,8 or 12 weeks depending on your climate. This approach has resulted in horses being chemically wormed when they didn’t need it AND parasites that have become resistant to the active ingredients in the worming products.
It is now considered best practice to conduct a FEC before administering a wormer and to then only worm horse in the herd that have an EPG count of 200 or more. This diagram explains it best:
Approximately 40 to 50% of mature horses in a herd consistently have low FECs (0 to 100 EPG), regardless of their de-worming status. Another 30 to 40% will have moderate levels (200 to 500 EPG) and will require more worming treatments per year. About 20% will have a high count (600 to 3,000 EPG) – they can actually produce more worm eggs than the rest of the herd combined – and they will need the most rigorous de-worming program.
Another excellent way to use the testing is to measure the level of faecal egg count reduction (FECR) by comparing faecal samples collected before and after a worming treatment. This can tell you if your worming product was effective (and therefore you still have some non-resistant worms in your parasite population) or ineffective (in which case you may have a resistance problem with the active ingredient in that particular worming product and will need to try an alternative).
To order a test simply download a Faecal Egg Count Information Sheet, pay for your test online (or in person if delivering your sample – see information sheet for details on where to deliver), send us your sample and we’ll send you your results by email within 2 days of receiving the sample.
Please note: FECs can only provide a count for Strongyles, not for other parasites such as roundworms, pinworms and tapeworms. Here is a great article from Kansas State University to help you understand more about the new approach to worming (if you intend to follow the calendar on this article remember to change the months – this is a northern hemisphere calendar, their Spring is our Autumn).