Horses In Urban Areas Study Results Released

The first study of horses around urban areas of Australia has been completed and provides an insight into the management and problems of horses in these areas. Arthur Stubbs of the company, Primary Tasks, was concerned about management and pasture use on agistment properties and small paddocks around urban regions, where many horses are kept for recreational use. He designed a study which included a telephone and mail survey together with field visits to determine some of the problems affecting urban horse owners and agisters around urban areas. The aim of such information is to improve the sustainability of land use and the economy of feeding horses in these regions.

The study involved 660 questionnaires being sent to a uniform climatic zone in south-eastern Australia. The sample included properties adjacent to metropolitan and provincial urban areas in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. Information was collected on methods of pasture and grazing management, feeding practices, approach to land care, problems encountered, priorities needing attention, and the general level of knowledge on these issues. The response rate to the mail survey was 30%.

While the full results are complex, a number of key points emerged from the study:

  • The number of horses owned averaged between 2 and 3.
  • Half the respondents had limited knowledge about pasture management.
  • Weeds are a well recognized problem in pastures around urban areas but most people thought that they were not a problem for pasture management or horse health.
  • Major land care issues are: weeds, overgrazing, pasture damage, drainage, erosion, and dust.
  • There is a high degree of supplementary feeding used in all areas.
  • The most common horse health problems were: wounds, colic, and foot abscesses.
  • One third of the respondents did not have their horses vaccinated for tetanus or strangles.
  • Average annual costs for various items were provided with feed, saddlery, and farrier costs being $900, $500, and $350 respectively per annum per horse.

The full results of the study are being published in a booklet by RIRDC and can be obtained by sending a check or money order payable to RIRDC for $15 to Ms. Karen Banyard, RIRDC, PO Box 4775, Kingston ACT 2604.

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