Skip to content

National Economic Cost of Equine Lameness, Colic, and Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM) in th

National estimates of the economic cost of animal diseases can be helpful in the prioritizing research, management, and control efforts. There are few recent estimates of the economic impact of equine health conditions in the United States, particularly at the national level. Most cost estimates focus primarily on aiding decision-making for alternative treatment strategies.

To evaluate the 1998 economic cost of Ikameness, colic, and equine protozoal myeloencephaltitis (EPM) to the U.S. equine industry, epidemiologic estimates from Equine '98, a study condutcted by the USDA`s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS), were combined with population and value estimates from both the USDA`s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and the American Horse Council (AHC).

Questions in the NAHMS survey were structured so that three components of costs associated with disease could be estimated: (1) death loss; (2) veterinary services, drugs, and additional care; and (3) lost use of affected horses.

Analysis of the data from the NAHMS Equine '98 survey yielded estimates of the percent of the U.S. horse population affected annually with lameness, colic and EPM. For lameness and EPM, these estimates, as well as the cost of data described below, were obtained by asking questions related to the last occurrences of lameness and EPM at the operations being surveyed.<> Asking participants fir detailed information about their last cases of lameness and EPM, rather than asking them to recall multiple events, was expected to yield higher quality data, For colic, estimates were based on data recorded on every colic case observed on the operations surveyed over the course of a none-year-period.

The value of death loss was calculated as the affected population of horses in the U.S. greater than six months of age multiplied by the weighted average number of events that ended in death multiplied by the average sales value of a horse in the U.S. during 1998. Use of the average sales value assumes that a particular health condition or disease even is distributed proportionally across the equine population. If higher valued equids experience the health condition disproportionately, the estimate of the cost of death loss would form a conservative estimated on cost.

Expense for veterinary services, drugs, and additional care were calculated as the affected population of horses in the U.S. greater than six months old multiplied by the weighted average costs of veterinary services, drugs, and additional care reported in the Equine '98 survey.

Beyond the direct costs of the disease, there are costs associated with losing the use of affected horses during treatment and recuperation. It is important to estimate these costs in terms of revenue lost by owners during these periods.

In Equine '98, operators estimated the number of "days of lost use" for horses that survived a condition or disease event. In placing a value on these days, a proxy was calculated for the revenue forgone by horse owners. The total number of days of lost use in the U.S. was multiplied by two components reflecting lost revenue: (1) the average sales value of a horse divided by the number of days of a life expectancy discounted to the present; (2) the weighted average cost of maintaining the horse. Average life expectancy of a horse was assumed to be 20 years. Again, using the average sales value would cause the estimate of lost use to be a conservative estimate on costs if the health condition is experienced disproportionately across the equine population in terms of equid value.

The three costs of components summed to obtain estimates of the magnitude of the economic impact to the U.S. due to the occurence of lameness, colic, and EPM in the U.S. horse population.

For lamness, the total estimate ranges from $678 million to $1 billion for 1998 due to a range of estimates for the incidence of lameness. For the lower incidence estimate, the largest component of the costs, 66 percent, is the attributed to lost use of horses. Twenty-nine percent of lameness costs arrives from veterinary services, drugs, and additional are expenses, while only 5 percent of costs result from deaths due to lameness.

The three disease conditions chosen for study in the NAHMS Equine '98 survey were based on input from the industry, the veterinary community, government, and the academic community. These three conditions are of interest from an economic perspective because they provide estimates of the magnitude of common heath costs in the U.S. horse industry, and because they provide an interesting comparison of the relative importance of the different components of the costs.

A much higher incidence of equine lameness, combined with moderate levels of death, number of days of lost use, and veterinary services, drugs and additional care expenses ranked lameness as the most costly of the three disease conditions.

Colic was a distant second in the terms of costs associated with the three disease conditions studied, because of death-loss percentages, moderate incidence, a low number of days of lost use, and low veterinary services, drugs, and additional care expenses.

EPM ranks third because of its very low incidence, which offsets moderate levels of death loss, high levels of days of lost use, and high levels of veterinary services, drugs, and additional care expenses.

More Stories

  • TWHBEA embraces change as new faces join the TWHBEA EC for 2020

    On the heels of Friday’s general membership meeting, the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association annual directors meeting mirrored yesterday’s meeting in tone and efficiency as about 70 of the group’s leaders gathered at 10 a.m. for a heavy load of business with the election serving as the pleasant shake-up of the day. Read More
  • Obituary – Claude Shiflet

    Claude Shiflet passed away today, December 7, with family at his side. The American Saddlebred Hall of Fame trainer was 87. He and his bride Alice had just celebrated their 67th anniversary the day before... Read More
  • Latest Issue 12 9 19

    Read More
  • Dr. Goldentyer to officially replace Juarez

    APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea sent the following letter to stakeholders announcing the selection of Dr. Betty Goldentyer as the permanent replacement for Bernadette Juarez. Initially Dr. Goldentyer had been named Acting Deputy Administrator but will not be permanent in the position... Read More
  • The new face of FAST: Fowler named Director of Advancement

    If her name sounds familiar it’s likely because she’s played a role in two important facets of the local community. A seasoned veteran in the media business with a heart for the horse, Sadie Fowler is now combining her unique skillset as the new face of FAST — the Foundation of Advancement and Support for the Tennessee Walking Show Horse. Read More
  • TWHBEA hosts succinct general membership meeting

    The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association (TWHBEA) held its annual general membership meeting at 1:00PM on Friday December 5, 2019.  In a change from previous years the standing committee reports were not given during this meeting and were held for presentation at Saturday’s International Board of Directors’ meeting. Read More
  • TWHBEA honors 2019 award recipients

    The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association held its annual awards banquet on Friday, Dec. 6 at the TWHBEA Headquarters in Lewisburg, Tennessee. The evening was kicked off with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at 5:30 followed by dinner and awards presentations at 6:30... Read More
  • SHOW Judges’ Committee set for 2020

    The SHOW HIO recently approved the members of the 2020 Judges’ Committee. Following the 2019 show season two members of the committee rolled off per the committee’s guidelines. Jennifer Bingham, who was chair of the committee for the last several years and Doyle Meadows were the two members whose term expired in 2019.   Read More
  • Surrounded by horsepower

    An MTSU graduate is expanding her family’s multi-faceted business ventures which range from showing horses to owning NASCAR championship racing teams to developing real estate. Allison Thorson owns and manages ThorSport Farm on Barfield Crescent Road in Christiana. The 500-plus-acre farm has an indoor training facility and 80 stalls, plus countryside riding trails, she said... Read More
  • Obituary – Nancy Elliott

    Nancy Caroline Ballentine Elliott, age 65, passed away unexpectedly and peacefully on Friday, November 29, 2019 surrounded by her family. A social hour with family and friends will be held on Friday, December 6, 2019 at 1:00 followed by the celebration of her life at 2:00 at her beloved Ballentine Farms Venue, 6921 Sunset Lake Road, Fuquay Varina, NC. Read More