Prepare Young Horses for a Lifetime of Performance

ascaridsAdult horses develop immunity to ascarids, or Parascaris equorum, but growing horses are immunologically naive to ascarids and are susceptible to infection.Effective parasite control can make or break healthy development in young horses. Foals, yearlings and weanlings are more prone to infection by Parascaris equorum (P. equorum), the most common type of roundworms (ascarids). At the 6666 Ranch in Guthrie, Texas, they understand the importance of protecting the health and well-being of their young horses well ahead of sale day.

“At times, we’ve encountered roundworm problems with some of our yearlings close to sale fitting time,” said Glenn Blodgett, DVM, 6666 Ranch. “Besides affecting their overall growth, performance and appearance, parasites also make horses more susceptible to other problems like gastrointestinal disease, colic and respiratory disease.”

To create the best parasite-control plan for these young horses, Dr. Blodgett worked on a study with Technical Services and Outcomes Research team members from Zoetis comparing the effects of purge deworming versus daily deworming on the health and growth of yearlings. Horses were split into two treatment groups of comparable weights and maintained in pastures at the 6666 Ranch. Ascarid eggs can survive harsh environmental conditions, so pastures where horses graze generally are heavily contaminated and a source of continuous infection.2

The 16-week study looked at 136 healthy, yearling American Quarter Horses split into two randomly assigned groups. The first group, consisting of 35 colts and 34 fillies, were on a scheduled purge deworming plan with ivermectin (IVM) paste at eight-week intervals.* The second group of 36 colts and 31 fillies received an initial IVM treatment at the beginning of the study, followed by a daily ration of STRONGID® C 2X (pyrantel tartrate) Equine Anthelmintic at the recommended dosage for the study duration.

In this study, a pyrantel tartrate daily dewormer that targets P. equorum increased the weight gain in young horses by 7.2%, or an average of 12.2 pounds more than purge deworming with IVM.3

The study design was simple and the results, Dr. Blodgett said, are convincing.

“This study was designed to produce real results that horse owners can easily compare and incorporate into situations at home,” Dr. Blodgett explained. “We weren’t individually feeding horses, and we showed you can simply top-dress a batch of feed, place it out for a group, and they will all get their share of the STRONGID C 2X. Many people feed and wean horses in a group setting just like we did in the study, so it can be easily integrated into most feeding programs.”

zchartFigure 1On average, all horses that completed the study had a positive weight gain from days 0 to 113, illustrated in Figure 1. However, a sampling of animals had a net intra-study weight loss from one four-week weigh check to the next — most commonly occurring between days 56 and 85, conforming to the infection-to-patency life cycle of P. equorum.6 In fact, more than four times as many horses in the IVM purge group (T1) experienced weight loss between each four-week check.

Weight loss in any growing horse is an indicator of a physiological challenge and a decline in wellness,” Dr. Blodgett continued. “This study strongly affirms the value of pyrantel anthelmintics in effectively controlling P. equorum, one of the most important endoparasites of growing horses.”

Compared to yearling horses purge-dewormed with ivermectin (T1), horses given a daily feeding of STRONGID C 2X experienced a more consistent rate of gain, allowing them to be better prepared for sale time.

An important advantage of daily feeding of STRONGID C 2X is the continuous activity against P. equorum, breaking the ascarid life cycle and suppressing pasture contamination. When given daily with feed, the pyrantel tartrate ingredient kills emerging ascarid larvae in the gut before they migrate to the liver and lungs.4,5 Purge deworming allows reinfection to occur between treatments, enabling the parasite life cycle to re-establish.

“Proper parasite control helps improve the overall health and performance of the horse, which all leads to a better-looking horse that can be more profitable at sale time, too,” Dr. Blodgett said. “This is probably the best-looking group of yearlings we’ve ever had. Sale prices have increased significantly over the last few years, and I’m sure that STRONGID C 2X has a role in that.”

Zoetis offers an Individualized Deworming (ID) reference guide to help you determine an ID plan specific to the needs of your horse.

*IVM 1.87%, according to label recommendations

1 American Association of Equine Practitioners. AAEP Parasite Control Guidelines.

2 Reinemeyer CR. Diagnosis and control of anthelmintic-resistant Parascaris equorum. Parasit Vectors 2009;2(Suppl 2):S8.

3 Data on file, Study Report No. STR13021, 6666 Ranch and Zoetis Inc.

4 Bowman DD, Lynn RC, Eberhard ML. Helminths. In: Bowman DD, Lynn RC, Eberhard ML, eds. Georgis’ Parasitology for Veterinarians. 8th ed. St. Louis: WB Saunders Co, 2002:115-243.

5 Zimmerman DR, Speer VC, Zimmermann W, Switzer MP. Effect of pyrantel salts on ascaris suum infection in growing pigs. J Anim Sci 1971;32(5):874-878.

6 Murray MJ. Treatment of equine gastrointestinal parasites. In: Chuit P, Kuffer A, Montavon S, eds. 8th Congress on Equine Medicine and Surgery. Ithaca, New York: International Veterinary Information Service 2003.

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