Donkey De-Worming!

Bluebell the donkey!

As donkey owners will know, donkeys cannot just be lumped in the same box as our horse and pony friends! Donkeys get redworm like horses and the worm egg counts are just as useful for donkey redworm control as horses – they can be included in our annual worming programme.

For the treatment of redworm not all products are licensed in donkeys but due to increasing resistance to wormers an unlicensed product may be required.

Below is an example of the de-worming diary recommended by The Donkey Sanctuary.

This gives particular treatments that may need to be carried out, however it should be noted that throughout the whole year it is recommended to perform Faecal Worm Egg Counts (FWECs) every 8 – 10 weeks to specifically tailor make a treatment plan for your donkey. Worm egg counts are performed on a small sample (handful size) of droppings which you can bring into the practice in a small labelled bag (e.g. freezer bag).


January to April Encysted cyathostomins (encysted redworms)

FWECs do not evaluate the burden of cyathostomin larvae. Treatment for encysted larvae will assist in reducing future pasture contamination and will guard against gut damage associated with encysted larvae.

Treatment options:

Equest (Moxidectin) – Not licensed in donkeys but is safe to use

  5 day Panacur (Fenbendazole) – Licensed in donkeys but lots of
resistance so may not be very effective. Good to use in young
donkeys/underweight/pregnant jennies

It should be noted that if your donkey has many FWECs that are 0 – there will be no need to treat for encysted cyathostomins.

Throughout the year perform FWECs every 8 – 10 weeks
March to May Liver fluke

A survey by the Donkey Sanctuary has found that a surprisingly high number of donkeys suffer from liver fluke. As fluke eggs do not show up in a standard worm egg count you might like to also ask for a fluke egg test. If your fields have wet areas or are subject to flooding it would be advisable to test for fluke annually. Spring is the optimum time for testing.


November Tapeworm

Tapeworm is much rarer in donkeys than horses but in high risk situations it would still be beneficial to treat once a year.

Treatment options

Equitape (Pyrantel) – Treats for tapeworm only

Double dose Pyratape P or Strongid P (Pyrantel embonate) – treats
for redworms and tapeworm

It should be noted that multiwormers (i.e. Equest Pramox or Equimax) are not advocated in donkeys.

Lungworms are a parasite that generally cause little problem for donkeys unless they are grazing with horses. Lungworms only develop fully in donkeys yet the immature forms in horses can be a serious cause of coughing. Therefore, if a donkey’s field companions are coughing, it can make sense to test the donkey faeces for lungworm larvae.

Please speak to your vet for more worming advice or contact us to register for our worming programme.

Lameness & Equine Physiotherapy Evening

Free Evening Talk

Join us for an informative evening to find out more about Lameness and Equine Physiotherapy.

Lameness – Speaker Tom McParland
Equine Physiotherapy – Speakers, Victoria Henderson & Kate Haynes

Buffet & Refreshments Q & A Session

To Book:
Tel: 01233 500505
Facebook: Message us with number of spaces you would like

You don’t need to be registered to book a place

Special Discount – Equitop Myoplast

Take advantage of £10 off your purchase of Equitop Myoplast only available in June. Download Voucher

Equitop Myoplast® is a unique and natural supplement for horses, packed with 18 key amino acids including 9 essential amino acids. The blend of amino acids in Equitop Myoplast provides the
building blocks for efficient lean muscle growth without horses becoming ‘fizzy’ or bulking up on fats and oils.

Help us keep you informed!

In May 2018 new legislation will come into effect which means we require permission from you as soon as possible for us to contact you electronically. You will be asked to complete a form either by your vet or when you pop into the branch.
If you do not wish to be contacted electronically (text and email) this may result in not receiving notifications about your horse’s healthcare.

The form is also available on our website by clicking here  if you have not already completed one. Many thanks for your help with this mammoth task!

World Equestrian Games 2018 – Exciting news!

We are very excited to announce that our Hawkhurst Clinical Director, Howard Newitt has been invited by the FEI to form part of the veterinary commission at the upcoming World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina (

This is a great honour as only a handful of vets are invited from across the globe to be part of the FEI veterinary team who will officiate at the horse inspections (trot-ups) and have overall responsibility for the welfare of the horses at the games. This appointment results from Howard’s 12 years as an FEI vet which includes previous appointments at local eventing & reining competitions, British Young Horse Eventing championships,  Junior European Reining championships & London Paralympic dressage.

Howard will be away for two weeks in September for the games which he is trying to convince everyone is all work and no pleasure!

Thinking of Breeding from your Mare?

We are here to help, call us for advice on how to go about breeding from your mare. We can help advise on whether Natural covering or Artificial Insemination is more suitable, what reproductive options are available and when to scan your mare.

Artificial Insemination (A.I) is a technique used to transfer semen from a stallion into the uterus of a mare during the correct stage of her oestrus cycle. A.I has become very popular in stud medicine for the advantages that it offers compare to natural covering (though not allowed in racing thoroughbreds), but, as much as it’s exciting breeding from your own mare, it’s important to understand how it works and the pros and cons before deciding to take this route.

What are the advantages of A.I?

  • You can choose a stallion that is competing without interrupting his schedule
  • Allows you to choose the best stallion for your mare from all around the world and too far away to make natural covering viable
  • You can choose a stallion of which semen was frozen before his death or castration
  • Improve bloodlines for a rare breed also encouraging its geographical spread
  • Reduce risk of breeding injuries to both the mare and the stallion
  • More disease control by preventing skin contact such as in natural service and also by checking the stallion with swabs for Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) and blood test for Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA) and Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA) every year before the semen collection
  • Permits use of valuable stallions and mare with breeding problems
  • Allows mares to be bred at the best time for conception
  • Permits evaluation of semen at each collection and immediate recognition of minor changes in seminal quality.

What are the disadvantages of A.I?

  • Cost
  • AI with chilled or frozen semen generally has a lower conception rate (chance of producing an embryo) than natural covering
  • Risk to the mare when performing rectal examinations
  • Like for natural covering, AI does not always result in a live foal the following year.

Semen presentation

Management of the mare and timing of insemination will be determined by which semen is chosen (fresh, chilled or frozen) but it is also very important to check in which of the three ways the semen is preserved best and travels best for the specific stallion.

Fresh semen

Fresh semen is usually used on studs and only lasts outside the horse for short periods of time. It always has the highest fertility but mares and stallions need to be at the same location for insemination. Also fresh semen is usually the least expensive method, because requires no processing and less frequent veterinary checks.

Chilled semen

The semen gets refrigerated immediately after collection and transported in chiller packs either by post or manual collection, staying viable for 2-3 days. The conception rates are greater than for frozen semen. With chilled semen it’s important to find out which days of the week the stud collects from the stallion and how much notice you will have to give for them to collect and send the semen.

Frozen semen

After collection the semen is separated and added to a preservative. It is then frozen and stored below freezing, usually in dry ice. The semen can then be transported great distances in liquid nitrogen container and last for many years as long as it is kept frozen. Once arriving at its destination it can be defrosted, re-awakening the sperm and inseminated into the mare. Compared to chilled semen, the freezing and handling process slightly reduces the viability of the sperm and conception rates, therefore requires mares to be inseminated immediately before or after ovulation. However advantages are that breeders can use stallions which are still competing and the semen can be sent well in advance of the mare being in oestrus, avoiding the last minute delivery of chilled semen, which may not arrive on time.

Pre-breeding check

Prior to embarking on an A.I. program it is important the mare is examined to ensure that she is fit to breed and asses for factors that may reduce fertility. The pre-breeding check, best if  performed safely in stocks, consist of a physical examination to evaluate vulval conformation, a rectal examination to check the cervix for any abnormalities and ultrasound scan to look for uterine cysts and to see at what stage of the cycle the mare is. At this time we will also be able to take clitoral swabs and, if required by the stud, to do blood tests to check your mare is free of venereal disease.

Timing the insemination

Mares cycle between February and October (cycles at the beginning and the end of the season can be very irregular) and have a 21-22 day cycle, with oestrus (the receptive period) lasting 3-6 days. To have a successful insemination resulting in pregnancy it’s important to place the semen in the uterus when the mare cycles regularly and at the correct stage of the cycle, so when she is in season and close to ovulation. Signs of oestrus in the mare include tail raising, opening and closing of the vulva (winking), frequent posturing and urination and some may, also, become anxious, aggressive, sensitive around their flanks and reluctant to work, though can be difficult to detect and irregularly shown. Ultrasound scans of the ovaries and uterus allows detection of the stage of the cycle and, measuring the size of follicle, we can predict when the mare is coming close to ovulation and inject her with drugs that induce it.

The best time to inseminate varies with the type of semen used: for fresh and chilled, AI need to be done within 12-24 hours of ovulation whereas for frozen AI it needs to be done within 6 hours of ovulation, which means a greater number of scans are required both during day and night.

Pregnancy Diagnosis

The most appropriate time to determine the pregnancy is between days 14 and 16 following ovulation through a transrectal ultrasound. At this time it’s very important to check for multiple pregnancies and, if necessary, deal with it before the embryo becomes attached to the lining of the uterus and makes it difficult to “squash” the twin.


14-16 days embryonic vesicle
2-3 month pregnancy scan

A further scan around 28 days to check the normal development by identification of the foal’s heartbeat is advised. This also reduces the risk of missing detection of a twin pregnancy. If the mare is not pregnant then she should go back in season again allowing the program to be repeated, hopefully, with a more favourable outcome.


March Is Tapeworm Testing Time For Your Horse

Milbourn Equine recommend worming against tapeworm in March and September. We do strongly advise that we test for tapeworm first to check if worming is required to reduce the development of resistance to the medicines used to treat them.

Testing for tapeworms cannot be done through the standard faecal worm egg count.

Either a blood test or the Equisal Tapeworm saliva test can be used to identify whether your horse has a tapeworm burden.

A blood sample can be taken by your vet to test, a method known as the ELISA or tapeworm antibody test. A horse with a high level of tapeworm infection will produce a large number of antibodies, which can be detected in the blood.

The test indicates a broad level of intensity, rather than tapeworm numbers. The amount of antibodies will indicate whether the burden is low, medium or high.
The Equisal tapeworm saliva test is performed on a swab of saliva taken from the horse’s mouth which is much quicker and less invasive than a blood test. The Equisal test has been shown to have very similar effectiveness as the blood test in detecting the presence of tapeworms.

The procedure is simple and full instructions are provided in the kit which is now available from us.  A swab is inserted into the mouth where the bit normally goes, then placed into a collection tube which is then posted to the laboratory by the owner for analysis. The result is returned to the practice and your vet will contact you with the result and advice for treatment if required.

To find out more and how to join our Equine Healthcare Plan to receive discounts on your worming treatments, tapeworm testing and membership to our worming programme please see