Young foals are usually more susceptible to equine parasites compared to adult horse. Exposure to parasites begins at such an early age. These parasites can find their way to the foal through their mother’s milk, or they can ingest the eggs of the parasites from manure. For this reason, it is important to deworm the mare shortly after giving birth using a deworming agent effective against strongyles, since they are the ones commonly passed to the foals. It should also target different species of parasites so you can protect your foals early on from heavy infestation of equine parasites.
For foals less than 12 months, deworming can already be a good practice. Using an ivermectin dewormer is essential in controlling ascarids, an equine parasite found especially in foals up to eight months old. Ivermectin dewormer is also used in mares 4-6 weeks before foaling or within 24 hours after foaling. Tapeworm infestation is rare in foals that are less than seven months old. When foals reach 4-5 months of age, they acquire strongyloides immunity, and ascarid immunity at eight months. Dewormers should be carefully used around foals; some agents may not be recommended in foals at a specific age. For instance, moxidectin is not recommended for use in foals less than six months old.
Ideally, a fecal egg count reduction test should be conducted for all foals so you can determine which dewormer is the best one to use. Prior to the first worming schedule and two weeks following the first worming schedule, a fecal exam should be performed. When using dewormers foals, it is best to consult your veterinarian so they can advise you on the best worming program for your younger horses.
Generally, it does not only require dewormers to solve the problem of parasite infestation for all horses. It also requires prevention by reducing parasite contamination through:
- Keeping the density of the pasture to a minimum. Overgrazing can lead to parasite contamination and it is best to avoid it
- Picking up and disposing manure regularly, about twice a week
- Composting a manure if you intend to spread it
- The use of grain and hay feeder to keep your horses from feeding on the ground where they are likely to ingest parasites.
- Regular grooming of the horse, particularly the manual removal of bot eggs found on horsehair
Keeping the horse’s environment clean is a vital step in preventing and controlling parasite infestation. Complete eradication of parasites from the surroundings is close to impossible, which is why it is better to keep the parasites well controlled to avoid problems. This way, you are helping adult horses as well as their newborn and incoming foals avoid equine parasite infestation as much as possible.