A Demographic and Epidemiological Study of the Equine Population of Scotland and Northern England

Mellor, Dominic J (1997) A Demographic and Epidemiological Study of the Equine Population of Scotland and Northern England. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The aim of this study was to estimate the total size, composition and geographical distribution of the equine population of Scotland and Northern England, and to record information on the management, level of activity and disease prevalence of this population in order to make recommendations for the prioritisation of future research in equine health and welfare. The study was conducted by means of a series of four mailed questionnaire surveys of a specifically recruited network of sentinel first opinion veterinary practices, recording data from both veterinary surgeons and also horse owners registered with the practices. Both group data, at the level of the veterinary practice or of the holding where horses were kept, and individual animal data were recorded. Extensive use was made of proprietary computer word processing, database, spreadsheet and Geographical Information System (GIS) software in the production of questionnaires and survey materials and in the storage, collation, analysis and presentation of survey data. The total size of the equine population of Scotland and Northern England was estimated to be 96,622 animals kept by 26,114 horse owners. The mean +/- SD age of the population was 11.0 +/- 7.5 years with 50% of animals male and 50% female. Thoroughbred or Thoroughbred cross were the commonest breeds comprising 30% of the total population. Overall 50% of owners kept their horses on private premises and 50% kept them on shared premises. Despite the large proportion of animals kept on private premises, animals from all types of premises mixed at shows or competitions approximately once a month. In terms of management, 69% of horses grazed for at least half of their time with 10% always grazed. Twenty nine per cent of horses were stabled for most of the time and a further 2% were permanently stabled and never grazed. Rates of vaccination and worming of horses reported by horse owners fell below recommended rates. The most popular equestrian activity was hacking, involving 24% of horses kept by respondent owners, closely followed by breeding and riding/pony club events involving 20% and 18% of horses respectively. Endurance riding and point-to-point appeared to be the least popular activities, each involving only 2% of horses kept by respondent owners. The top five categories of equine disease problem diagnosed, in descending order were; musculoskeletal, minor injuries, dermatological, gastrointestinal and respiratory, though the most common reason for veterinary attention to a horse was for a routine procedure such as vaccination. A Geographical Information System, holding all data generated by the study linked to maps of the study area, was created to allow intuitive interrogation of information relating to equine welfare. In addition, this system has the potential to become a powerful management tool for contingency planning in the face of new diseases. It was concluded that sentinel practice based research provided a successful means of gathering demographic and epidemiological information about populations of animals at the macro level. The findings of the study suggested that future research should focus on: musculoskeletal disease, in particular laminitis and joint, tendon and ligament problems; gastrointestinal disease, particularly colic, and especially in eastern areas; dermatological disease and respiratory disease, particularly COPD and upper respiratory tract infections especially in the central areas where a greater proportion of horses are kept in shared premises. Timely dissemination of information generated by this and other studies, in an intuitive manner, was considered to be of paramount importance to ensure maximum impact by improving animal health and welfare.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Mat Reeves
Keywords: Veterinary science, Animal sciences
Date of Award: 1997
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1997-75265
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 21:24
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 21:24
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/75265

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