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Managing Horse Pastures to Control ParasitesBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · September 4, 2014

Controlling parasites in horses is a several-step program. Performing fecal egg counts and administering oral deworming preparations are important, but these tasks assume that the horses are already hosting internal parasites. To make parasite control more effective, owners must also take steps to minimize parasite populations on the property and avoid reinfestation after horses have been dewormed. Pasture management is the key to these parasite control measures.  

Pasture management should be aimed at killing parasite eggs/larvae and preventing their ingestion by horses. Methods that are effective in these goals are mowing fields closely before winter; rotating horses off a pasture and then cutting hay off that field before horses graze it again; rotating horses and other species (sheep or cattle) in a pasture; and harrowing to break up manure piles in hot weather and then keeping horses out of the pasture for several weeks.

Other helpful pasture management steps to minimize reinfestation with parasites are frequently rotating horses from one pasture or grazing area to another; avoiding overstocking or overgrazing pastures; and removing manure from pastures once or twice a week. Removing manure also removes parasite eggs, and composting the manure kills the eggs within a few days through the heat that is naturally produced as the manure decomposes.