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What is a worm egg count?

This section of the web site will answer any questions that you have regarding what a worm egg counts is and how to carry the test out.

We have also included fragments of conversations that we have with new clients enquiring about ordering a worm egg count through ourselves.


"How is a worm egg count carried out?"

A worm egg count is an examination of a small sample of dung in a laboratory to find out how many worm eggs are present in it. 

The results are shown as the number of eggs per gram (EPG).

"Will it show definately how many worms my horse has?"

No, it is a snapshot at a specific point in time.  It will tell you how many eggs active adult worms have laid in a small sample of dung.  However it does provide an indication as to the level of  the worm burden the horse is carrying and a trend of results over a period of time WILL tell you whether your horse definately has worms or not.

"What does the result mean?"

The results are given in eggs per gram (EPG).  The levels should be interpreted by a professional in conjunction with a risk assessment. 

A general guide is given below:

Under 200 epg                     LOW

200 epg – 1200 epg            MEDIUM

Over 1200 epg                   HIGH

These guides will change if you have a young or old horse, mare in foal or a horse with a health problem.

The factors that influence how you read the result include the following:

  • Are all horses in the field on the same worming control programme?
  • The age of the horses
  • Any history of colic or worm related disease.
  • The previous worming history
  • The length of ownership and previous history
  • How is the pasture managed?
  • Is dung collected?
  • Are the field rested or a crop taken?
  • Are the fields cross grazed?
  • How long have they had horses on them?
  • What is the grazing to acre ratio?
  • Are the horses stable kept?
  • Do you have a trend of results to compare?

This is why it is important that you discuss the results with either your vet or our consultants before making radical changes to your worming strategy.

"How can I order a worm egg count?"

Visit our shop and you can order your worm egg count.  You will have the choice of laboratory.

Please submit a risk assessment to us when you return the dung sample as this will ensure we provide an accurate interpretation of the results. This has the largest effect on the benefit of a worm egg count.  A risk assessment will ensure that the correct interpretation is given and the correct worming regime identified.  There is no charge for this service and once the risk assessment is completed it will remain on your treatment record for future reference.

You do not have to submit the risk assessment if you want to interpret the results yourself.

"...........I've always wormed my horse, he won't have worms."

Even if you have wormed your horse regularly with chemicals for a number of years this is no guarantee that he is not carrying a heavy worm burden.  He may have worms that are resistant to the chemicals that are being used, he may be grazing contaminated pasture or infected by another grazing companion.  Without carrying out a worm egg count it is impossible to know and surely it is worth making sure.  Otherwise you are wasting a lot of money and your horse may not be performing at his best.  You can order a resistance worm egg count in our shop.

"............Why would I order my worm egg counts through you?"

Wormers Direct use the recently developed ScientifEQ parasitological laboratory which has been created in partnership with the University of Liverpool. Using the latest research and technology in faecal egg counting developed by Professor Chris Proudman every sample is tested twice by trained technicians quality controlled by the University. ScientifEQ provide a professional examination using the most up to date equipment and a fast and efficient service with a minimum 48 hours turnaround.

"..............I'll just go straight to a laboratory then."

You will get the same laboratory service however our consultants will also advise you on the interpretation of the results, and provide chemical wormers if required.  The same result at different times of the year and in different horses can mean completely different things.  We take the histoy of the horse into account when advising on the results and this consultation is free of charge if you purchase the worm egg counts through us.  We also keep a treatment record for every equine of worm egg count results and worming products issued.  This is freely available to you and can be faxed to your vet in times of illness if required.

"............I can get my worm egg counts cheaper elsewhere."

Yes you can.  There are newer laboratories offering a much cheaper worm egg count service, however we believe that you get what you pay for.  If you are investing in a worm egg count then you will make decisions that directly affect the health of your horse or pony based on the result.  A vets bill for colic would be much more expensive than the £5.00 difference in price for the worm egg counts.

"What are the limitations of a worm egg count?"

The test does not detect immature and encysted stages of  small redworm. 

This means that a clear reading does not necessarily mean that your horse does not have worms.  It is an indication as to the level of worms in your horse.

It cannot tell the difference between large and small strongyles

It does not detect tapeworm eggs

Quite frequently tapeworm segments are visible in dung samples indicating a tapeworm burden.  The most conclusive test for this is the tapeworm antibody test. 

"How do I take a sample?"

Order a worm egg count from the shop.

We send a complete collection kit to you in the post. 

It contains:

A pot (35mm camera film container) for each sample required
Surgical gloves - for picking up the dung
Labels - to identify which horse the sample is for
Instructions - on what to do
Padded Envelope - to return the samples
Plastic Bag - for full pots in case they break in the post

The dung needs to be as fresh as possible and firm.  Once in the container the eggs are sealed and will not deteriorate.  If an old dung pile is used then the eggs may have fallen out and a false low reading is given.  This could be dangerous if you were planning not to worm on the results of the sample.

The results are normally available within 48 hours after the dung is received.