Eqvalan is bringing back its popular free worm egg count (WEC) campaign that launched last year.

Samples of horse dung are examined in a lab for the WEC to determine whether your horse needs worming or not, potentially saving money for horse owners.

This is part of the company’s SMART (Simply Monitor, Assess Risk and, if necessary, Treat) campaign — an effort to limit the growing resistance to equine wormers, highlighted recently by the British Veterinary Association.

“Random use of wormers results in resistance as the worms fight back,” says H&H vet Karen Coumbe.

“It is really sensible to do worm egg counts — you wouldn’t treat a horse for a cough if it didn’t have one so why worm a horse that doesn’t have worms?” she said.

Research suggests that 80% of the UK’s equine worms are carried by just 20% of our horses.

The Eqvalan campaign saw free faecal sampling kits handed out with purchases of Eqvalan Duo in the spring and autumn of 2009 and will follow the same format this February and March.

According to manufacturers Merial, it resulted in a positive response from consumers.

“It’s quite a mindset change to get people to use WECs instead of strategic dosing, but I am confident people will be using them more and more,” said Claire Edmunds of Merial.

The 2010 re-launch coincides with reminders that horse owners should also be testing for tape worms at this time of year. Tape worms are best detected via a blood test and do not show up on routine WECs.

Although Merial says there is no evidence of tape worms resisting current wormers, Karen Coumbe recommends getting your horse checked for this harmful parasite.

Proper pasture management such as the dreaded poo-picking is also important.

Eqvalan are offering free worm egg count kits with purchases of Eqvalan Duo during February and March.

Look out for our Vet Clinic on Horse & Hound edition 18 March for more information on worm resistance.