Reasons for performing study: Improved education of veterinarians and equine owners/managers is essential in implementing parasite control strategies that are less reliant on chemicals.
Methods: This questionnaire study, conducted on 61 UK Thoroughbred (TB) establishments during 2009 and 2010, was designed to obtain an understanding of current helminth control practices on studs. To our knowledge, this is the first occasion that statements obtained from TB studs via questionnaire have been supported by statistical analysis.
Results: Despite many respondents indicating high levels of concern regarding anthelmintic resistance, 56% of these establishments that received visiting equines co-grazed these animals with permanent stock and <74% administered anthelmintics prior to integration. In the 12 months preceding the study, most respondents administered frequent macrocyclic lactone (ML) treatments, with none appearing to leave any animals in groups untreated at each administration. Indiscriminate whole group treatments with MLs and movement of animals to ‘clean grazing’ post treatment (reported by >25% of respondents), indicates that many stud owners/managers are not aware of the strong risk factors for the development of anthelmintic resistance. Few studs had conducted faecal egg count (FEC) analysis in the past and only 22% indicated that they considered this form of analysis beneficial in determining anthelmintic choice.
Conclusions and potential relevance: The challenge now is to convince stud owners/managers to deviate from their current practices to control strategies that are more likely to preserve anthelmintic efficacy. Veterinarians need to get more involved in implementing these control strategies, with better emphasis placed on the role of diagnostic tests in facilitating targeted treatments and in investigating anthelmintic sensitivity in the associated nematode populations.