05/26/2014 11:07AM

USDA Census of Agriculture reveals decline in horse population


A census study by United States Department of Agriculture—National Agriculture Statistics Service found that the U.S. equine population has decreased by about 10 percent during the five-year period between 2007 and 2012.

The USDA-NASS conducts its Census of Agriculture every five years to track the equine population in each state, as well as the number of farms and ranches.

The results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture, released on May 22, tallied 504,795 farms and ranches with horses that produce more than $1,000 in agricultural products or sales each year, which also includes Thoroughbred breeding operations. That number represented a 12 percent decrease from the 2007 census, which counted 575,941 farms. The most common size of farms and ranches with horses was 10-49 acres, with 184,743 in that size range.

Those farms and ranches recorded 3,621,348 horses, a decrease from 4,028,827 during the previous census.
Texas was the most populous state for horses, with 395,818 equines on 64,114 farms. Rounding out the top five by population was Oklahoma, California, Kentucky, and Florida.

The study also tracked horse sale statistics across all breeds, with Texas once again leading by horses sold. However, the top two states by value of horses sold were both traditional centers for Thoroughbred breeding and sales, Kentucky ($178,314) and Florida ($161,025).

The total value of sales for sales for all equines in 2012 was $1.391 billion, a decrease of approximately $691 million from 2007. Over 1,000 farms and ranches reported more than $1 million in equine sales.