Daisy, my American Quarter Horse mare, is very susceptible to becoming infected with internal parasites, especially a class of parasites called strongyles. Strongyles, often referred to as roundworms, can cause damage to her digestive tract and blood vessels, so it’s very important to try to keep Daisy Strongyle-free.
These nasty bugs are resistant to deworming medicines and infect horses frequently–Strongyles are in almost every pasture and are the most common internal parasite found in horses.
Most horses can fend off Strongyles through a strong response from their immune systems, but a certain percentage of horses aren’t able to shake these bugs. Daisy is one of those horses.
How do we know that she’s such a premium lunch ticket for Stronglyes? We keep tabs on them by testing her manure frequently, sending off samples to a lab for testing every couple of months.
I asked the vet what we should do to try to lower Daisy’s parasite load, and she recommended a Panacur Power Pack–a double dose of Fenbendazole dewormer every day for five days. I gave Daisy the Power Pack according to directions and submitted a manure sample to the lab three weeks after the deworming, per the vet’s instructions.
Unfortunately, the deworming was only moderately effective, lowering Daisy’s parasite burden by about twenty percent.
So, I am trying to come up with alternate solutions. One of them is to change the location where I feed them their hay in order to keep them from eating straight off of the ground. Now I feed them on rubber stall mats that I clean regularly.
Another solution that I had never heard of anyone trying also popped into my brain: what if we could find a beneficial insect that would either eat the Strongyles or drive them out of the horses’ pasture?
I called my buddy Eric Acosta at Bioncontrol.net and picked his brain for a few minutes. After explaining the scenario to him, he recommended that I should apply some predatory nematodes to the pasture in order to see if they will be voracious enough to put a cramp the Strongyles’ style, either by eating some of them or crowding them out of town.
He recommended a species of nematode called Steinernema feltiae, a hungry type of nematode that cruises around looking for things to eat but also has the capacity to pick a target (their favorite food) and attack it.
Since this species of nematode also like to eat fly eggs, I figured that applying them to the pasture was a no lose scenario: even if they don’t get rid of the Strongyles, they might help decrease our fly population. I placed an order for fifty million of the little guys.
The nematodes arrived in the mail yesterday, and I put them out on the pasture within an hour or their arrival. I mixed a teaspoon of them into a gallon of water in my watering can and watered a small section of the pasture with them. I repeated this process about 30 times until all of the nematodes had been set free in their new home. I wish them luck!