The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has released Changes in the U.S. Equine Industry, 1998-2015, the second report from its Equine 2015 study.

Produced by APHIS’ National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS), this report examines trends in the equine industry during the last 18 years and provides Census of Agriculture data on demographic changes in the industry from 1850 to 2012.

Equine 2015 marks the third time that NAHMS has conducted a national study on 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 that will serve as a basis for education, service, and research. The study provides information representing 71.6% of U.S. equids and 70.9% of U.S. operations with five or more equids.

[media mediaid="38671"]

A few highlights from the Changes in the U.S. Equine Industry, 1998-2015, report:

  • In 1998, 2005, and 2015 the percentage of operations that used equids primarily for pleasure was similar (46.1%, 45.7%, and 47.2%, respectively), as was the percentage of operations that used equids primarily for farm/ranch work (18.7%, 24.8%, and 25.%, respectively);
  • The percentage of the equine population 20 years of age or older increased across study years (5.6%, 7.6%, and 11.4%, respectively), while the percentage of the overall equine population less than 5 years of age was lower in 2015 (22.9%) than in 1998 or 2005 (37.6% and 35.7%, respectively). These key findings suggest an aging equine population with fewer foals born in 2015 than in previous study years.
  • The overall percentage of equids tested for equine infectious anemia (EIA) was similar in 1998, 2005, and 2015 (36.6%, 37.6%, and 36.8%, respectively). The average cost of an EIA test (including call fee or transportation) increased from 1998 ($22.95) to 2005 ($27.33), and nearly doubled in 2015 ($40.77) compared to 1998.
  • The percentage of operations that vaccinated any resident equids during the previous 12 months was similar in 1998 and 2005 (75.1% and 75.9%, respectively), but lower in 2015 (66.7%).
  • The highest mortality rate in all three studies occurred in equids 20 years of age or older. The percentage of equids 20 years of age or older that died was lower in 2015 (3.1%) than in 1998 or 2005 (11.9% and 10.2%, respectively).

Find additional information, including findings on biosecurity and horse movement, among other topics, at aphis.usda.gov/nahms.