February 2017 | USDA Releases First Report from 2015 Equine Study
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USDA Releases First Report from 2015 Equine Study

February 2017

The USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) released the first report from its Equine 2015 study, Baseline Reference of Equine Health and Management in the United States, 2015. The Equine 2015 study is NAHMS’ third national study of the U.S. equine industry. As with NAHMS’ 1998 and 2005 equine studies, Equine 2015 was designed to provide participants, industry, and animal-health officials with information on the nation’s equine population. This information will serve as a basis for education, service, and research, while providing the industry with new and valuable information regarding trends in the industry for 1998, 2005, and 2015.

Equine 2015 was conducted in 28 states, chosen for study participation based, in part, on the size or density of the states’ equine population. Results were broken out by region. The Northeast region consisted of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. Pennsylvania had the largest number of equines in the Northeast region and ranked sixth nationally with 129,460. Texas led the nation with 458,333 followed by Oklahoma with 172,438, Kentucky with 154,483, California with 149,253, and Florida with 129,667.

The total number of equine in the 28 states in 2012 was 3,913,938. The report extrapolates that the total number of equines in the US is 3,913,938.

Data collected for the study represented 71.6 percent of equids and 70.9 percent of U.S. operations with five or more equids.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Approximately 9 of 10 operations (88.9 percent) had 19 or fewer resident equids on May 1, 2015. These operations accounted for 58.1 percent of resident equids in the United States. Resident equids were defined as equids that spent more time at one operation than at any other operation.
  • The majority of operations (70.7 percent) used a private veterinarian as their primary information source regarding equine health care.
  • Operators on 38.8 percent of operations were knowledgeable about equine infectious anemia (EIA), while 18.2 percent recognized the name, not much else, and 7.7 percent said they had not heard of it before.
  • Overall, 47.1 percent of operations performed at least one EIA (Coggins)  test on resident equids in the previous 12 months, and 36.8 percent of resident equids had at least one EIA test in the previous 12 months.
  • For all operations, the average cost of an EIA test (including call fee or cost of transportation) was $40.77 and ranged from $39.34 in the South Central region to $46.39 in the West region.
  • Overall, 66.7 percent of operations vaccinated any resident equids in the previous 12 months. The percentage of operations that vaccinated any resident equids in the previous 12 months increased as operation size increased.
  • Overall, 93.4 percent of births in the previous 12 months resulted in a live foal. A higher percentage of foals in the West region (96.8 percent) were born alive compared with foals in the Northeast (90.9 percent) and Southeast (91.5 percent) regions.
  • Deciding to end the life of an equid can be difficult. Gathering information that allows an owner to consider in advance the criteria to use when making the decision to euthanize an equid can be helpful. Overall, more than half of all operations (59.8 percent) had an end-of-life plan for equids.
  • Overall, 5.8 percent of resident foals died in the first 30 days following birth; 3.3 percent died in the first 2 days, and another 2.5 percent died from 3 to 30 days following birth.
  • For resident equids less than 1 year of age, conditions commonly attributed to cause of death were injury, wounds, or trauma (27.8 percent of deaths); digestive problems other than colic, such as diarrhea (17.8 percent); respiratory problems (15.4 percent); and failure to get milk or colostrum (13.2 percent).
  • For resident equids 1 to less than 20 years of age, conditions commonly attributed to cause of death included colic (31.2 percent of deaths); injury, wounds, or trauma (16.3 percent); and respiratory problems (10.4 percent).
  • For resident equids 20 years or age or older, conditions commonly attributed to cause of death included “other” (26.6 percent of deaths), colic (13.4 percent), cancer (13.2 percent), neurologic problems (12.1 percent), and chronic weight loss (11.7 percent). The most common “other” specified condition attributed to death was old age.

The complete report is available at aphis.usda.gov/nahms.