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First Freeze: Which Parasite Should You be Controlling?

The horse botfly

Looking after all aspects of a horse’s health helps us maintain well-being, performance and attitude in our animals.

Controlling parasites with an appropriate worming programme is just one part of good horse management.

Now we’ve had the first freeze, it’s time to treat for bots (as well as routine worms) to help control and break the parasitic cycle.

What do we know about the botfly? The larvae of the botfly is ingested by the horse during the summer months, it migrates through to the digestive system via the mouth where it develops over the winter, it is then passed out in the droppings unharmed, to burrow in to the soil where it finally emerges as a fly. Then the process starts all over again.

Botfly eggs are laid on the horse’s coat (often on the legs), and once hatched irritate the horse sufficiently to encourage scratching or licking, larvae can also be ingested by horses grooming each other.

Winter is the best time to treat for these parasites as the adult botfly is killed by the frost. Dosing with a drug active against bots (such as ivermectin or moxidectin) after the first freeze will clear the horse’s stomach from the parasite while adults are inactive, therefore helping to reduce the botfly population for the following year.


Botfly eggs are laid on the horse’s coat, they should be removed with a botfly knife to help reduce infection.

For more useful (and interesting) articles on nutrition, training, events and equestrian news from the experts follow ReadySupp on social media and via our newsletters. Visit our homepage to subscribe.

Our nutritional expert Clare MacLeod is an independent Registered Equine Nutritionist with expertise in equine health and fitness. Her book, ‘The Truth About Feeding Your Horse’  provides more information on equine nutrition and is a useful companion for every horse owner! Visit her website for further information.

If you have any questions on equine supplements, and want to improve your horse’s health, performance, or attitude give our friendly team a call 01672 541 157 for advice. We won’t try and hard sell you anything – we promise.

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