Equine Nutrition and Health Care Trends Revealed by SurveyBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · October 11, 2012
In a nationwide survey recently conducted by American Horse Publications, horse owners and managers were asked to share their views on equine nutrition and health care. The survey collected information from more than 100,000 horse enthusiasts across the country.
Four out of five horse owners made their own decisions about which horse feed to buy. Suggestions from a barn manager were considered by 8% of owners. Veterinarians, equine nutritionists, and other consultants had less influence on feed selection. A majority of owners used pelleted feeds; comparatively few had tried extruded or cubed feeds. Three out of four owners bought feed at a locally owned feed store, with product availability and convenience listed as the most important factors in choice of feed.
In addition to concentrate feeds, the use of nutritional supplements is extremely popular, with more than three-fourths of owners reporting that they use these products for their horses. Products to support joint function and health, improve hoof quality, and supply trace minerals were most often used, followed by those to boost coat quality and digestive tract health. Respondents purchased supplements from feed and tack stores, online sources, catalogs, and chain stores. Respondents used particular nutritional supplements chiefly because they felt their horses needed them. A veterinarian’s recommendation was also important in the decision to use a nutritional supplement.
Veterinarians are consulted about vaccination schedules by 75% of owners. Vets administer vaccinations about 60% of the time, with many owners buying vaccine from a veterinarian and administering the injections to their own horses. Horses tend to be vaccinated yearly for tetanus, rabies, equine herpesvirus, equine influenza, West Nile virus, and encephalomyelitis; some owners vaccinate twice yearly for some of these diseases. According to the survey, 4% of owners reported that their horses did not receive any vaccinations.
Deworming is done four to six times a year by the majority of horse owners. Almost all owners use commercially available oral paste dewormers, with a few (5.7%) preferring a daily deworming product. About half of all owners reported that they had fecal egg counts done on their horses. Recommendation by a veterinarian and product price are influences in an owner’s decision as to what dewormer to purchase.