This May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) will launch "Equine 2015," 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 that will serve as a basis for education, service and research related to equine health and management, while providing the industry with new and valuable information regarding trends in the industry for 1998, 2005 and 2015.
For the study, NAHMS asked equine owners, industry stakeholders and government officials to provide input and define the information needs of the equine industry. From this process, seven study objectives were identified:
1. Describe trends in equine care and health management for study years 1998, 2005 and 2015.
2. Estimate the occurrence of owner-reported lameness and describe practices associated with the management of lameness.
3. Describe health and management practices associated with important equine infectious diseases.
4. Describe animal health related costs of equine ownership.
5. Evaluate control practices for gastrointestinal parasites.
6. Evaluate equines for presence of ticks and describe tick-control practices used on equine operations.
7. Collect equine sera along with equine demographic information in order to create a serum bank for future studies.
To collect the data for the study, representatives from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will visit randomly selected equine operations in 28 states, beginning in May 2015. NASS representatives will conduct personal interviews with all participating operations.
For operations that choose to continue in the study and are eligible to do so, representatives from USDA's Veterinary Services will schedule visits from late summer through mid-December 2015 to administer a second questionnaire, perform a facility biosecurity assessment, collect equine blood and fecal samples, perform a tick exam of equines on the operation and collect tick specimens. Operations continuing in the study also have the option of collecting fecal samples to be tested for internal parasites in order to detect anthelmintic resistance.