Friday, June 27, 2008

Integrated Pest Management

As part of our holistic approach to horse care, Traveller’s Rest is experimenting with several non-chemical means of pest management.

Internal parasites

Standard Operating procedure on many farms is to administer a chemical anthelmintic and/or boticide every six to eight weeks, year ‘round, no matter what. We’re trying some techniques that may make such frequent administration unnecessary. Most are aimed at preventing the horses from reinfesting themselves day after day.

When a new horse arrives at TREES, he or she is kept isolated from the other horses. This serves several purposes, but one is to keep a new horse with a potentially heavy parasite load from infecting pastures, paddocks or drylots occupied by other horses. The newcomer is kept separately for several months, being dewormed twice during that period. Manure is picked up in the area at least once, often twice, daily.

In established pasture groups, manure is picked up every day when possible, but is left no longer than three days. According to a report by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (Australia,) “the egg of the small strongyle may take between three to five days to hatch, depending on the temperature. When hatched the larvae develops from first instar larvae to second instar larvae and migrates from dung to pasture as encapsulated third instar larvae.” Cleaning up manure several times a week will hopefully break that cycle.

To monitor the effectiveness of this program, TREES would like to purchase the tools and supplies needed to perform on-site fecal egg counts at regular intervals. We’re researching sources and prices now. Results will allow us to administer chemical dewormers only when needed and will also tell us whether or not some horses are prone to heavier parasite loads than others.

Boticides will be administered once or twice a year, but to lessen the load, all horses are examined daily during the summer for bot eggs which are removed immediately upon discovery.

Part Two of our Pest Management notes will discuss flies, ticks, mosquitoes and other flying pestilence.

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