2022 – Central District All Faculty Symposium – Agriculture
S.C. Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension, Sumter County, Bushnell, FL
Situation: Most veterinary medications are dosed according to body weight of the animal. Concerns with antibiotic and anthelmintic resistance have made it critical to ensure that horses are appropriately dosed with these types of drugs. Many horse owners do not have access to scales large enough to weigh their animals and tend to estimate body weight (BW) as opposed to taking them to a scale or using a weight tape or weight estimation formula. Based on observations and anecdotal evidence, the author hypothesized that most horse owners tend to underestimate the body weight of horses (BWhorse). Underdosing horses with antibiotics and anthelmintics for long periods could have serious implications on the effectiveness of antibiotics and anthelmintics in local environments. Methods: Fifteen (n = 15) sophomore college students in the Equine Business major at West Texas A&M University were asked to estimate the body weight of ten mature, stock-type horses. Prior to their estimations, they were given the frequently referenced average BW of horses and ponies (500 kg). Once the students had guessed all BWhorses, all horses were weighed on a livestock scale for comparison. Data were analyzed in SPSS using a left tailed, one-sample t-test comparing the actual BWhorse to the mean of all students’ estimates for each horse. Results: Students underestimated BWhorse (P < 0.001) for seven of the ten horses assessed (70%). Conclusion: Results of this study indicate a need to educate horse owners of the importance of keeping accurate weight records of their animals, so that they can accurately dose medications. Additionally, it may be important to generate separate average reference weights for horses and ponies as opposed to grouping them together to give a more realistic baseline for estimation of BWhorse to the general public.