Dr. Tania Sundra

01 September 2019

Which is more economical – Rotational Deworming or Targeted Deworming ?

If you think that Targeted Equine Deworming (TED) costs more than rotational deworming, think again. 

We’ve crunched some numbers and targeted deworming actually ends up saving you $$!

Remember, only 20% of horses shed the majority of worms. What does this mean ? Well, assume you have 5 adult horses – only 1 horse out of those 5 will actually require deworming more than once a year. 

One of our clients in Lower Chittering was happy to sit down with us to crunch the numbers (names have been changed for the purpose of this post). There are 5 adult horses (age between 8-15yo) on this property and prior to 2017, they were all dewormed 4 times per year using the rotational deworming model (which a lot of people used to follow, and which we now know is an ineffective way to manage worms). This was how they used to be dewormed : 

Over 12mths each horse cost $65.70 to deworm. Over 5 years this equated to $328.50 per horse or $1642.50 for all horses.

In 2017, the owner contacted us and we started performing fecal egg counts (FEC) on all 5 horses. They submitted 3 fecal egg counts from each horse that year. It turned out all horses, apart from 1 (Ruby), were low shedders. 



What does this mean ?

Well, it means that the low shedding horses (those that consistently returned an egg count of less than 200 eggs per gram) only needed deworming once a year on this property. We recommended one treatment in winter to target encysted larvae and tapeworms for all horses. The cost of the 3 fecal egg counts + 1 treatment of Equest = $63.95 per horse.

What about Ruby ? 

Ruby consistently returned a moderate to high count (between 350-600 eggs per gram) in all her FEC’s. She was otherwise healthy and showed no outward signs of disease. We recommended Ruby was dewormed 3 x per year. The cost of Ruby’s 3 fecal egg counts + 3 worming treatments = $98.40. 


What about the next year ? 

In 2018, because we already knew the shedding status of each horse and their management had not changed, we only recommended 1 fecal egg count be performed for all horses to monitor their worm burden. This cost $75 for the year. 

The 4 low shedding horses received a treatment in winter with Equest + Tape which cost $75.80 in total. 

Ruby was dewormed every 4mths due to her being a moderate-high shedder which cost a total of $53.40. 

Over 5 years, we calculated the cost of implementing a Targeted Equine Deworming program to be $1,184.80.

If you remember that over 5 years rotational deworming cost $1642.50, you can see a savings of almost $500 by implementing a Targeted Deworming Program!

When you consider cost of wormers are continuing to rise its likely that its going to equate to even bigger savings! 

Remember – deworming is only one aspect of integrated worm management. This property in Lower Chittering was approximately 50 acres. Horses lived in paddocks 24/7. They rarely left the property and were a closed herd (no horses coming and going). The horses rotated between paddocks and the paddocks were cross-grazed with sheep. Rotational and cross-grazing are excellent tools that will decrease parasite numbers on pasture. Picking up manure daily is another important factor if your horses are on smaller acreage or if your paddocks are irrigated. Warmth and moisture provide excellent conditions for worms and they will be active for longer!

There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Developing a targeted deworming program involves sitting down with your veterinarian. This is important because your vet will should know your horses (including important information on their health or history of disease) and your property.  Factors such as age of your horse, previous issues such as colic, use of the horse and stocking density will affect the management plan we develop.

We offer this service to all Avon Ridge Equine clients and anyone else wanting to develop a Targeted Deworming program. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us on 0427 072 095 or check out some of our links :

Fecal Egg Count Instructions & Submission Form
Worm Egg Count Service 

About the author : Dr Tania Sundra is an equine veterinarian and director of Avon Ridge Equine Veterinary Services. In addition to her role as an ambulatory practitioner, Dr Sundra is also serves as a member of the The Australian Equine Parasitology Advisory Panel.