Declan Troy, Assistant Director of Research at Teagasc, presents the Teagasc Special Award to Aine Shortall (left) and Kate Whyte (right) at the BTYSTE 2023 award ceremony.

Top award for Moate students who develop a herbal product for common equine problem

Two Moate students motivated to find a chemical-free alternative for treating equine parasites have won the Teagasc special award at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) 2023.

Aine Shortall and Kate Whyte, who are in Transition Year in Moate Community School, were named as the winners of the award on Friday for their project which examined creating a solution to anthelmintic resistance in horses.

The pair trialled a number of different herbs to reduce populations of parasites such as lungworm, redworm and liver fluke in horses.

The Moate students later created a nutritious horse treat containing common herbs like slippery elm, fennel, thyme and mint to act as a natural equine worm treatment.

The students fed the horses a treat each day for five days and measured the faecal egg count over a two-week period. They found that that the combined treat, including all four herbs but with a greater quantity of mint, was the most effective treatment, with a decrease of 92% in the faecal egg count.

The students said that as horse owners they were motivated to find a chemical-free alternative for treating equine parasites. They were advised by their teachers Irene O'Sullivan and Mairead Cusack. Orla Keane, a Research Officer at Teagasc Grange, advised the students on the methodology.

The Teagasc special award at BTYSTE, which is chosen by a team of judges, is awarded to the project that best demonstrates a thorough understanding of the science of agricultural or food production, or the use of science to improve technologies available to agricultural or food production.

The Teagasc special award winners also placed 2nd in the Intermediate Group in the Biological and Ecological Sciences category.