EQUUS - - Biology -

By now, vir­tu­ally ev­ery equine vet­eri­nar­ian in this coun­try knows that regularly sched­uled, across-the­board de­worm­ing is a bad idea. And, I know, many horsepeo­ple do as well. But how many peo­ple have acted on this in­for­ma­tion and changed their ap­proach to par­a­site con­trol? Not nearly enough.

We re­cently sur­veyed man­agers of large Thor­ough­bred farms here in Ken­tucky. We found that, de­spite know­ing of the risks as­so­ci­ated with sched­uled de­worm­ing, only about 25 per­cent of re­spon­dents had adopted the new sur­veil­lance-based rec­om­men­da­tions. The other 75 per­cent are still do­ing it the old way.

This sur­prised me. I thought we’d be bet­ter off by now, and I hope that we might be else­where. Farm man­agers in Ken­tucky are deal­ing with a lot of year­lings and young stock who don’t al­ways fit easily into the “test and se­lect” ap­proach to de­worm­ing. On some of those farms, sched­uled de­worm­ing may still be the best choice. But that same study also found that the man­agers were treat­ing very fre­quently, even more fre­quently than we rec­om­mend with­out a tar­geted ap­proach. In fact, they were us­ing lots of drugs that we know don’t work any­more. The man­agers don’t ap­pear to be mak­ing much of an ef­fort, at all, to change the way they de­worm, and a ma­jor­ity de­clared they wanted some sort of as­sur­ance that the new ap­proaches would be suc­cess­ful be­fore they would con­sider any change.

This study is still our only pub­lished ev­i­dence of how peo­ple are utiliz­ing the in­for­ma­tion we’ve sent out, and it’s a bit dis­heart­en­ing.

On the pos­i­tive side, my im­pres­sions

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